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Close up of baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Benefits

By Dr. Amy Hedges, Liberty Pediatrics

Amidst the long list of decisions to make when you’re pregnant is perhaps one of the most important: whether to breastfeed your baby.

If you’ve never breastfed before, it can seem a little strange or overwhelming to think about. Understanding the benefits of breastfeeding may help you feel confident you’re making the best choice for you and your baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the only source of nutrition for the first six months of a baby’s life. Here’s why: breast milk offers superior protection from illness compared to formula. In fact, studies show that breastfed babies have lower risks of:

  • Asthma
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Childhood obesity
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes

Babies aren’t the only ones who enjoy health benefits from breastfeeding. If you breastfeed, you may lower your risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, and certain types of breast cancer. Additionally, breastfeeding may save you money. Breastfed infants typically need fewer sick visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations. As a result, moms who breastfeed may not have to stay home as often to take care of a sick child.

Many moms who breastfeed say they enjoy the convenience of never having to buy formula, prepare a bottle, or wash any bottle accessories.

It’s also comforting to know that your baby is receiving optimal nutrition. Only your breast milk is specifically tailored to meet the health needs of your baby. As your baby grows, your breast milk changes to meet different nutritional demands.

Breast milk can be a life-saving treatment for infants who are extremely premature or critically ill. Breast milk significantly decreases the odds of life-threatening complications and infections in premature infants during the first months of life.  

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.