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    Breastfeeding = Risk Reduction

    Hey, Mom, breastfeeding is good for you!
    There has been a high focus on the benefits to the baby when mom decides to breastfeed. Some of the benefits for infants fed mother's breast milk include:

    What are the benefits to the mother?
    Starting from the time right after the baby is born, breastfeeding reduces the risk of blood loss by increasing the rate of uterine contraction.

    It seems to increase bonding with the new baby and gives many women an improved sense of self-esteem and success with mothering.

    For the long term, some studies indicate that nursing your baby reduces lifetime menstrual blood loss.

    Other benefits may include a reduced rate or less severe infections during your lifetime and possibly a reduced risk of spinal and hip fracture after menopause.

    Reduced Cancer Risk
    It lowers the risk of ovarian cancer.

    According to a recent issue of issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, breastfeeding seems to reduce the risk of premenopausal breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 40. Other studies have shown a reduced risk for breast cancer throughout the life of the mother.

    How many women decide not to breastfeed?
    One survey of 245 mothers found 44.3% planned to breastfeed.
    When a followup was done at 6 months, only 13% were still nursing their infants.

    Another study, reported in the Journal of Family Practice, asked 66 women whether they would be breastfeeding. Only 3 (4.5%) indicated that they planned to breastfeed exclusively, while an additional 11 (16.7%) said that they planned to use a combination of bottle-feeding and breastfeeding.

    According to this report, women with less than 12 years of education were more likely to steer away from breastfeeding.

    Why not breast feed?
    Given the benefits, why don't all women decide to breastfeed their babies?

    One survey of 245 mothers found, "The most common reasons bottle-feeding was chosen included:

    • 1) mother's perception of father's attitude,
    • 2) uncertainty regarding the quantity of breast milk,
    • 3) return to work.

    By self-report, factors that would have encouraged bottle-feeding mothers to breastfeed included:

    • 1) more information in prenatal class;
    • 2) more information from TV, magazines, and books;
    • 3) family support."
    Arora S, McJunkin C, Wehrer J, Kuhn P.
    Pediatrics 2000 Nov;106(5):E67

    If women don't know about the benefits of breastfeeding, both to themselves and to their babies, it makes sense to use formula instead. The concerns that the father won't be able to take part in the feeding or that returning to work will cause problems are real.

    Dad Can Help With Breast Fed Babies
    If you breastfeed you can still use a breast pump to fill bottles for the times you need to be away from the baby or when Dad wants to take part.

    Many women are worried that breastfeeding will cause sagging. Saggy breasts are not caused by breast feeding.

    Heavy breasts tend to respond to gravity more quickly than smaller breasts, but that is true whether or not you nurse your children.

    Taking Control
    So many of the risk factors for breast cancer are out of our control. Breastfeeding is one way that women control some of the risk.

    It's not a guarantee that breast cancer will be prevented by nursing your babies, but if it's better for both baby and mom... why not take advantage of the benefits?


    also see -> Breastfeeding & Breast Cancer

    Are You At Risk For Breast Cancer?



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