Healthy you Pregnancy & babies Breastfeeding 10 reasons to breastfeed

10 reasons to breastfeed your baby

1. Nutrients and protection
Breast milk is the best food to help your baby to grow and develop. It contains the perfect amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals. Remarkably, as your baby grows, your milk will also change to keep up with your baby’s needs.

Breast milk contains valuable antibodies that help prevent disease and may reduce the risk of your baby developing allergies. After birth, your first milk, called Colostrum, offers vital early protection and helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria by coating your baby’s digestive system.

2. Brain power
Evidence shows that children who were breastfed, score higher on IQ tests, as well as on teacher ratings of their academic performance.

3. Convenient and portable
Breast milk is always safe, fresh and exactly the right temperature. It’s ready for baby at a moment’s notice, and you don’t have to heat it, boil water, or sterilize bottles. This makes night time feedings a lot easier.

4. Size doesn't matter
The size of your breasts doesn’t matter. Big or small, they will produce milk for your baby. Breasts begin to prepare for baby very early in pregnancy and are able to produce Colostrum (the first milk) from about 24 weeks of pregnancy. The more your baby breastfeeds – the more milk you will produce.

5. Benefits mothers
Research suggests that breastfeeding provides a measure of protection against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and weak bones later in life. Your body uses calories to produce milk, so breastfeeding can help you to gradually lose weight gained during pregnancy.

6. Closeness to your baby
The closeness and comfort of breastfeeding strengthens the bond with your baby, as one part of all the things you can do to build a secure, loving relationship.

7. Lasting benefits
Research shows that breast milk is so important that it is the only food or drink your baby needs for the first 6 months of life. Beginning at 6 months of age babies need a variety of foods in addition to breast milk, which continues to provide nutrition and protection. Many mothers continue to breastfeed until their babies are two years old or more, as recommended by Health Canada – any amount of breastmilk is always good for babies.

8. Breastfeeding is free
Breastfeeding saves you money! Without question, breastfeeding saves hundreds – even thousands – of dollars.

9. Works for working moms
Your baby can have all the benefits of your milk even if you plan to go back to work or school. You can express milk by hand or with a breast pump and leave it with your caregiver to feed the baby. Breast milk can also be frozen for future use.

10. Environmentally friendly
Breastfeeding is good for your baby, for you and the environment! Human milk is produced and delivered to the consumer – your baby - without any pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste.

Adapted from Public Health Agency of Canada.