Breastfeeding can be a challenging undertaking for new mothers, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience that creates a special bond between you and your baby. Most importantly, breastfeeding may be the healthiest feeding option you can choose for your child.
Sandy Gabriel, RNC, international board-certified lactation consultant at the Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center at Newport Hospital offers essential information about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and new mothers.
Gabriel explains that breastfeeding is the "perfect nutrition" for your baby. Your breast milk is naturally designed to provide optimal nutrition. Everything a baby needs is within a mother's breast milk.
She says, "Milk is species specific. Cow milk has all of the nutrients needed to provide for their offspring, as human milk does for theirs. Cow milk is not designed to provide for the needs of a human child. "
Gabriel adds "Human milk changes to meet the needs of your child. As your baby grows, he or she has different nutritional needs. The human body naturally adjusts to meet those age-specific needs. No other nutritional option is able to offer this incredible benefit."
There are many proven health benefits to breastfeeding your child, and additional research is discovering that there may be many more. Gabriel provides the following list of breastfeeding benefits.
The American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that a new mother should breast feed their baby for six months. After six months, age appropriate food, in addition to continued breastfeeding, should be introduced until the child is at least a year old.
Gabriel stresses that the time to stop breastfeeding is the decision of the mother. She explains that Western culture puts pressure on new mothers to stop breastfeeding their children when they are young, but from an "anthropological standpoint, considering other cultures, babies are breast fed anywhere from two to four years." Therefore, when you choose to stop breastfeeding your child is a personal decision.