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Breast-fed Babies Reap Lifelong Benefits

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Despite compelling arguments to breast-feed babies for a year or longer, most mothers who opt to breast-feed stop doing so completely by the time their babies are six months old. According to the US Surgeon General, 75 percent of American mothers breast-feed their newborn babies; however, after six months, only 43 percent breast-feed, and of those babies, only 13 percent are breast-fed exclusively. But organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), along with the Surgeon General, have argued that breast-feeding—for however long a mother is able to do so—should be better supported because it has tremendous benefits for both the mother and child.

Mothers reap both health and financial rewards by breast-feeding. Many women find that breast-feeding helps them create special bonds with their babies. Physiologically, prolactin—a hormone released during breast-feeding—helps women relax, which can otherwise be difficult due to sleep deprivation and life changes that accompany a baby’s birth. Another released hormone, oxytocin, helps the uterus heal and return to its pre-pregnancy state. Breast-feeding reduces a woman’s risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis, and the longer she breast-feeds, the lower her risk. In addition, many mothers find that breast-feeding helps them lose the extra weight they gained during pregnancy.

Women who are able and willing to breast-feed also discover a substantial financial benefit. Infant formula can cost $1,200 to $1,500 per year! Add that to the cost of bottles, nipples and other supplies, and the price can be overwhelming.

While breast-feeding is certainly advantageous for the mother, breast-fed babies are the greatest beneficiaries, even if they are breast-fed for a short period of time. These babies have boosted immune systems, which results in a greater ability to fight diarrhea and pneumonia. Babies who are breast-fed during the first few days of life digest colostrums, which provide unique disease-fighting antibodies.

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EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for the article, I have had 4 kids and been a life long supporter of the benefits of breast feeding. However, as a woman who was breastfed and still got osteoporosis, I thought I'd share some of my experiences and what has worked for me.
I lead a healthy lifestyle however like many women at my age, I have been losing bone density for the last several years. (maybe since menopause?)

I’ve been reluctant to try any prescription medication but a few years ago I gave in and my doctor prescribed Fosomax for me. I took it for a couple months but the side effects like nausea, diarreha and general muscle soreness were really affecting my day to day activities.

I stopped taking Fosomax and decided to go the more natural route. I began looking into the effects of resveratrol and after coming across this Journal of Biological Chemistry article (link to article listed below) I began taking a regimen of Resvantage resveratrol on a daily basis. There are many resveratrol supplements on the market but this one is physician recommended, made by Pfizer, and because the resveratrol is micronized it is 3.6x more effective than store bought brands.

That was 3 years ago and yearly tests have shown that I haven't had any further bone losses over that period of time. I have experienced no side effects; quite the opposite, resveratrol has me sleeping more soundly and I have added muscle mass which we tend to lose along with bone mass as we age. My mental acuity has improved as well.


June 29, 2011 - 12:04pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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