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Breast-Feeding - Benefits of Breast-Feeding

Breast-feeding is a natural way to nourish your baby. It benefits both you and your baby. But it's your decision whether to breast-feed.

Benefits for the baby

Breast milk provides your baby with vitamins and minerals for optimal growth and development. It also has the needed proteins, fats, and other substances for growth.

Breast-feeding provides health benefits for your baby, such as:

To compare, baby formula does not help protect a baby from infections and other health problems.

Benefits for the mother

Soon after your baby is born, breast-feeding helps your body recover from the stresses of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Breast-feeding also stimulates your body to release oxytocin, which helps your uterus contract, bleed less, and return more quickly to its prepregnancy size.

Breast-feeding also lowers your risk for certain health problems, such as breast cancer or diabetes later on.1, 5

You may find that losing weight is easier with breast-feeding. But weight-loss rates after delivery vary among women.

Feeding your baby milk at the breast is convenient, because you have a food source that is ready at all times. You don't have to do anything to prepare.

It's your decision

Breast-feeding is a personal choice. How you feed your baby is your decision. Your thoughts and feelings about it are an important part of the decision.

Breast-Feeding: Should I Breast-Feed My Baby?

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 01, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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