In the middle of the night, a mother leaves her bed because her baby is hungry. She walks to her kitchen, finds a baby bottle, mixes formula, heats the bottle and then feeds her infant.
If she were breastfeeding her child, those steps would be eliminated, and she would be back in her bed, asleep, in a much shorter time.
More important than convenience, breastfeeding offers a multitude of benefits to mothers and infants. For these reasons, LaSalle Parish Health Unit promotes breastfeeding as the best method of nourishing infants up to six months old. In August, the Health Unit puts a particular emphasis on this campaign.
According to Dana Evans, a nurse in the LaSalle Parish Health Unit, “Human milk is nature’s way to provide nutrition for infants. Our WIC (Women, Infant and Children) Clinics recommend exclusive breastfeeding as the best way to feed an infant, even a premature one.”
Clients of the LaSalle Parish Health Unit are constantly being educated about the health and wellness benefits of breastfeeding. The nutrients in breast milk are more easily absorbed than those in formula. Infants fed on breast milk tend to score higher on IQ tests, and are less likely to be overweight later in life.
Because breast milk has antibodies in it to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses, breastfed infants are healthier and experience fewer and shorter illnesses than formula-fed infants. Breastfeeding helps to save on health care cost such as prescriptions, doctor visits and hospitalizations. Mothers of healthier babies miss less work.
Mom’s mental and physical health can also benefit. Nursing a child creates quiet time for bonding. Extra calories are burned during production of breast milk, which can help women lose their pregnancy weight. Hormones produced while nursing cause the uterus to return to normal size at a faster pace. Breastfeeding also lowers mom’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Evans says “Breastfeeding is a natural and rewarding process. It helps an infant to grow the way nature intended and helps mom to return to her normal size.”