Breastfeeding

Benefits for Mother and Baby 

Breastfeeding is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants through the first year of life and beyond.1  Here are a few reasons to consider breastfeeding:

For the mother:

  • Able to lose pregnancy weight by using extra calories 2
  • It is an easier and more convenient way to feed a baby
  • Mothers are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer, lessen postpartum depression and lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes3
  • An opportunity for one-on-one time to bond with your baby

For the baby:

  • Breast milk strengthens the immune system by passing along antibodies to the child which help improve the immune system’s ability to resist infection before the baby’s immune system has fully developed
  • Breast milk is rich in DHA to help support infant brain, eye and neurological system development

 Breast milk lowers the risk of illnesses including:

  • Ear infections
  • Stomach viruses
  • Respiratory infections
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 and 2 Diabetes
  • Childhood Leukemia
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a gastrointestinal disease in preterm infants 3

The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations on Breastfeeding1:

  • Infants should be nourished exclusively by breast milk for at least the first six months
  • Around six months, a mother can introduce solid food while continuing to breastfeed
  • Breastfeeding your baby can last for one year or longer if the mother and child are happy doing so

Maternal intake of supplemental DHA supports breast milk DHA levels during nursing.  It is important to visit with your doctor or pediatrician about taking a prenatal or post-natal vitamin with DHA to help support your baby’s brain and eye development and function.


How Breast Milk is Produced

Pregnancy hormones have been preparing your body to express milk throughout your pregnancy. The hormone prolactin and the baby’s suckling prompt the alveoli to make breast milk. Prolactin and the hormone Oxytocin are released into your bloodstream, causing the cells around the alveoli to contract and squeeze. Oxytocin is the same hormone that helps your uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy shape. 

Don’t be discouraged if at first you find breastfeeding frustrating and difficult.  It is important for you to continue to feed your baby at regular times even if the first few attempts make you have doubts about continuing. Just remember to be calm and patient with yourself and the baby.  If you continue to struggle, you and your baby may benefit by contacting a lactation consultant to help establish good breast feeding techniques and habits.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics . 2012 Mar ;129(3). Available from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full.pdf+html?sid=5ba3f05f-5456-432a-ab25-af436901de59.
  2. WIC Works Resource System . Beltsville (MD: National Agricultural Library, US Department of Agriculture. MyPyramid in action: tips for breastfeeding moms fact sheet; 2007 Oct . Available from: http://www.nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Topics/BreastfeedingFactSheet.pdf.
  3. Womenshealth.gov .US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. Frequently Asked Questions. Breastfeeding; 2010 Aug . Available from: http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/OWH_FS_Breastfeeding_7-25-2014.pdf.
  4. Womenshealth.gov . US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. Breastfeeding; 2010 Aug