Wednesday, November 13, 2013

13 (AWESOME!) Evidence-Based Reasons to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding truly is the best feeding! And if you needed any more reason to think so, here are some wonderful research-based and perhaps less well-known reasons to breastfeed!!

If you have other ideas please share them in the comments below!!


1. Breastfeeding can decrease your risk of breast cancer. 
 This is a BIG one that I think we need to talk about more! 
Preventing breast cancer is better than having to treat it!!

A large meta-analysis of 47 epidemiological studies from 30 countries found a 4.3% (95% CI 2.9-5.8) decreased risk of breast cancer for every 12 months of breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding two children for two years each could conceivably reduce your risk of breast cancer by over 17%. [PubMed] (1)

2. And Ovarian Cancer. 
A meta-analysis found that the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer decreased 8% for every 5-month increase in the duration of breastfeeding (RR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.90, 0.95). [PubMed] (2)

3. Breastfeeding will save you over 
$2,366 per year.
In The Business of Baby by Jennifer Margulis (2013) she estimates that infant formula will cost approximately $2,366 per year, whereas breastfeeding is free. This doesn't even take into account all the money you could save on doctor's visits and medicine because you'll have a healthier baby. See my post here for how to save over $4,000 with a new baby!

4. And your baby will be healthier.
Breastfeeding decreases the risk of infection such as gastrointestinal infections, lower respiratory infections and otitis media. Breastfeeding has also demonstrated an effect in the prevention of allergies, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, hypertension, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This means less doctors bills, missed days of work, and money spent on medicine. [PubMed] (3)

5. Breastfeeding enhances cognitive development. 
Although there is some conflicting research, some studies show that breastfeeding may enhance cognitive development, at a minimum breastfeeding promotes optimal cognitive development for each respective baby. [PubMed](3)

6. And can give your baby better social mobility.
A large British cohort study demonstrated that there may be life-long social benefits to breastfeeding; a better chance of moving up the social ladder. It was found that breastfeeding increased the likelihood of upward social mobility and decreased the odds of downward mobility; an effect partially mediated through neurological and stress mechanisms. [NCBI] (4)

7. They may be less likely to become obese.
Although research isn't definitive on this because there are so many confounding variables, there does to be a correlation between increased breastfeeding rates and decreases in overweight and obesity. [PubMed] (5)


8. Breastfeeding is sustainable and Earth-friendly.
Infant formula, not so much. Just think about all that tin, cardboard, plastic, and the costs of cattle for milk, manufacturing dry or liquid formula and shipping... the environmental costs of infant formula are numerous, but breastmilk on the other hand is essentially cost-free. More environmental impact facts and information here.

9. You may raise a less picky-eater.
 Some research indicates that breastfeeding and especially extended breastfeeding may introduce a baby's taste pallet to a variety of flavors leading them to be less picky as they try foods in toddler-hood. You can find more in this article and this study

10. You can put a pause on your fertility. 
 An effective form of birth control, exclusive breastfeeding is 98-99.5% effective in preventing pregnancy in the first 6 months, when certain conditions are met. For some women ovulation doesn't occur for over two years, an excellent way to child-space for optimal health! Referred to as lactational amenorrhea, you can learn more about it here. Night feeds are an important factor in preventing ovulation and subsequent period. 

11. You'll get more and better sleep!
Research is increasingly demonstrating that breastfeeding mothers get more sleep than mothers feeding formula or using mixed feeding (contrary to what formula advertising alludes to!). Exclusively breastfeeding mothers report having more energy during the day, less symptoms of postpartum depression and more hours logged throughout the night. You can find an excellent summary of the research here.

12. And reduce your risk of  
postpartum depression. 
Breastfeeding can protect a mother from postpartum depression and reduce the severity of symptoms, this is possible through various mechanisms such as promoting hormonal processes that protect the mother against stress, helping to regulate sleep and wake patterns for mother and child, improving mother's self-efficacy and emotional involvement with the child, reducing the child's temperamental difficulties, and promoting better mother-child interactions. [PubMed] (6)


13. And you may lose more baby-weight!
Although there are some conflicting studies, there are some high-quality studies that demonstrate a positive association between breastfeeding and postpartum weight loss! [PubMed] (7)

Are there other research-based reasons to breastfeed? Leave a comment and let me know!!

Happy Breastfeeding!
~Wisdom and Birth

1. Breast cancer and breastfeeding: Collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50302 women with breast cancer and 96973 women without the disease. Lancet. 2002;360:187–95. [PubMed]
2. Luan NN, Wu QJ, Gong TT, Vogtmann E, Wang YL, & Lin B. (2013). Breastfeeding and ovarian cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2013 Oct;98(4):1020-31. [PubMed]
3. Leung AKC & Sauve RS. (2005). Breast is best for babies. Journal of the National Medical Association. 97(7): 1010-1019. [PubMed]
4. Sacker A, Kelly Y, Iacovou M, Cable N, Bartley M. (2013) Breast feeding and intergenerational social mobility: what are the mechanisms? Arch Dis Child 2013;98:9 666-671 [NCBI]
5. Lefebvre CM & John RM. (2013). The effect of breastfeeding on childhood overweight and obesity: A systematic review of the literature. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12036. [Epub ahead of print].
6. Figueiredo B, Dias CC, Brandão S, Canário C, Nunes-Costa R. (2013) Breastfeeding and postpartum depression: state of the art review. Jornal de Pediatria (Versão em Português), 89(4):332-338. [PubMed]
7. Neville CE, McKinley MC, Holmes VA, Spence D, Woodside JV. (2013). The relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum weight change-a systematic review and critical evaluation. Int J Obes (Lond). doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.132. [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed]

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing good and helpful article with us. This is very helpful for me.
    Baby Breastfeeding Tips