Breastfeeding protects babies
Early breast milk – Known as liquid gold, colostrum (coh-LOSS-trum) is the yellow thick first milk from the breast that babies suck just after birth, produced during pregnancy. This milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold. (Visit How to know your baby is getting enough milk to see just how small your newborn’s tummy is!)
Breast milk fights disease – The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique; baby formula’s cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk. In fact, among formula-fed babies, ear infections and diarrhea are more common. Formula-fed babies also have higher risks of:
Necrotizing (nek-roh-TEYE-zi): Flesh eating bacteria
enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-lyt-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinaltract in preterm infants.
Lower respiratory infections
Type 2 diabetes: when the body does not produce insulin
Mothers benefit from breastfeeding
Life can be easier when you breastfeed – Breastfeeding may take a little more effort than formula feeding at first. But it can make life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. Plus, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. You do not have to buy, measure, and mix formula. And there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! You can satisfy your baby’s hunger right away when breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding can feel great – Physical contact is important to newborns. It can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers can benefit from this closeness, as well. Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time to bond. The skin-to-skin contact can boost the mother’s oxytocin (OKS-ee-TOH-suhn) levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps milk flow and can calm the mother. It also creates a bond between the mother and the baby.
Breastfeeding can be good for the mother’s health, too – Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems in women:
Type 2 diabetes
Breast cancer: cancer of the breast
Ovarian cancer: cancer of the ovaries
Breastfeeding during an emergency
When an emergency occurs, breastfeeding can save lives:
Breastfeeding protects babies from the risks of a contaminated water supply.
Breastfeeding can help protect against respiratory illnesses and diarrhea. These diseases can be fatal in populations displaced by disaster.
Breast milk is the right temperature for babies and helps to prevent hypothermia (when the body temperature drops too low).
Breast milk is readily available without needing other supplies.