Why Moms Choose Nursing
At the risk of sounding like one of the "playground moms," the fact is nursing should be promoted simply because it's healthiest for the baby. Many women mistakenly feel that bottle-feeding is just as good—it's not. "All women need to know the benefits of nursing," says Judy Hershberger, R.N., a certified lactation consultant in Waltham, Massachusetts. "A lot of them aren't given the knowledge they need in order to make the best possible decision about their feeding choices. Because breastfeeding is best for the mother and the baby, all women should be encouraged to try it."
The benefits of breastfeeding are very well documented. Breastfed babies undisputedly enjoy the best possible nourishment in terms of carbohydrates, protein and fat, and they also enjoy a host of health advantages as well.
Nursing decreases the likelihood of ear infections, lymphoma-type cancers, gastrointestinal diseases, and other illnesses caused by bacterial and viral infections. It's also thought to lessen the chances of getting allergies, eczema, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Adds Marsha Walker, a nurse, lactation consultant and president of Lactation Associates in Weston, Massachusetts, breastmilk contains the type of fats—the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA and AA—that promote brain and retina development. "Breastfed babies enjoy developmental advantages," says Walker. "They consistently score higher on the Bayley Mental, Developmental and Motor Indexes. And when they reach school age, these children may have higher IQ's than their bottle-fed peers."
In terms of benefits to the mother, breastfeeding reduces the chance of developing premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. It also lessens the risk of hemorrhaging after delivery, as it causes the uterus to contract, and therefore clamp down on the bleeding that occurs. Adds Leslie Hill-Walker, the clinical coordinator of Concord Hillside Medical Associates, "These contractions also help the uterus to return to normal more quickly after having a child."