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Understanding the Importance of Breastfeeding

Many parents prefer bottle-feeding their baby over breastfeeding, primarily because of time and schedules.  For instance, if a new mother only has a couple of weeks off from her job, it would be difficult to start with breastfeeding.  There is certainly nothing wrong with bottle-feeding a child but as you will learn in this article, breastfeeding has many excellent benefits.  For lots of parents, the importance of breastfeeding far outweighs any negatives.

The average time a mother breastfeeds a baby is one year, although some women go even longer.  However, a number of mothers who started out breastfeeding will do so for a few months while on maternity leave, switching to formula until the time when the child is ready for solids.  The one thing that cannot be argued when it comes to the importance of breastfeeding is that the milk offers the child much more than any bottled milk could ever achieve.

The thing about breastfeeding is that human milk is simple remarkable.  While some formula options on the market are good, they cannot come close to the value of real milk.  For instance, human milk provides immunological, nutritional, and developmental benefits.  Studies have been done showing that babies who were never given breast milk tend to have more problems with ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal issues, obesity, diabetes, and even forms of childhood cancers.  Going a step further, some studies have even suggested that breastfed babies are more intelligent than those raised on a bottle.

Today, we live in a world of toxins and chemicals that can lead to illness or disease in babies, especially those with lowered immune systems.  Therefore, the importance of breastfeeding in this case is that babies are not subjected to contaminants, or they have a better ability to fight them off.  By being able to resist toxic effects from the environment, babies are healthier and happier.

Over the past 15 years, the importance of breastfeeding has become quite apparent.  In fact, a declaration was signed in the United States back in 1990 stating that of all contributors to an infant’s life, breastfeeding was the most valuable.  Because of this, major organizations around the country support natural feeding, to include UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and even the Department of Health and Human Services.

Today, a number of health plans are promoting breastfeeding through educational programs and interventions.  What medical research has proven is that while feeding a baby naturally is important throughout the entire time planned, it is specifically critical in the first five days of life.  The reason is that human milk contains immunologic agents and a variety of other compounds that help babies fight off bacteria, parasites, and viruses.  Because a baby will not reach a completely developed immune system until around the age of two, providing him or her with breast milk provides the best way to fight.

It has also been found that breastfed babies tend to gain less weight and learn at a younger age.  Other benefits include convenience.  For mothers, they never have to worry about buying formula, bottles, and nipples, mixing the formula, heating it to the right temperature, and then feeding the baby.  Instead, the milk is perfectly mixed and at the ideal temperature all the time.  With breast milk available, many working mother are able to continue this process by expressing milk throughout the day and then adding it to a bottle.

Of course, the importance of breastfeeding also goes into the benefit of cost reduction.  Formula is expensive, period.  Then when you add in the cost for the bottles and nipples, you are paying good money just to feed your tiny baby.  However, breast milk is 100% free.  As you can see, there are many wonderful benefits for the baby and the mom when it comes to breastfeeding, which is why more and more mothers are making this choice.  While there are situations in which breastfeeding is not an option, if you have any possibility of breastfeeding your baby, you will love the benefits, as well as the special bonding time that can never be replaced.

This very personal decision is one that needs careful consideration since there are so many factors involved.  If you have concerns, you can talk to your doctor.  Then to understand the importance, you can visit your local library or go online to gain even more information.  Most importantly, if you choose not to breastfeed, it is perfectly fine.  Your baby will still grow healthy and strong.  Therefore, never feel guilty for the choice you make.  Although breastfeeding does offer some special things to the baby that formula cannot offer, making the choice to bottle feed is not the end of the world.
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