The decision to breastfeed is a personal one and, increasingly, a common one. Canadian health organizations unanimously support breastfeeding, and they're spreading the message that breastmilk offers perfect nutrition and significant immunological and psychological benefits for the health of the babies. Certainly breastfeeding can't be beat for its practicality. Whenever the baby is hungry, mother offers a ready-to-serve, not to mention free, milk supply.
10 reasons to breastfeed
1. Breastfed infants have increased protection against major illnesses like meningitis and diabetes.
2. Breastmilk also helps protect against minor illnesses including ear and gastrointestinal infections, diarrhea, and colds, and may help protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
3. When breastfed babies do get sick, they require hospitalization less frequently than bottle-fed babies.
4. Breastmilk offers superior nutrition.
5. The components of breastmilk change to meet the infant's changing nutritional needs as he grows.
6. Breastfeeding may protect against food allergies, if mother's diet contains only low allergenic foods.
7. Breastfeeding is convenient. There are no bottles to sterilize, no formula to mix.
8. Breastfeeding may save a family about $100 a month in formula and bottle supplies.
9. Breastfeeding is enjoyed by both mother and baby, and promotes attachment.
10. Women who breastfeed experience less ovarian and breast cancer.
Choosing to breastfeed
It's a decision each mother makes after considering all the available information and a constellation of family and community factors: how does she feel about breastfeeding? What does her partner think? Did her own mother breastfeed? Her sister? Her friends and neighbours? Will she feel comfortable breastfeeding in public? In the end, the decision lies with the soon-to-be mother, who may not always choose breastfeeding but who will choose what she feels is best for herself and her family.
About 80 per cent of Canadian mothers start breastfeeding in hospital; by the baby's sixth month, 75 per cent are using formula alone or in combination with breastfeeding.