The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) now recommends women breastfeed for at least 1 year
starting within 1 hour after birth and breastfeed on demand. They also recommend pumping and storing your milk
if you cannot directly breastfeed. Approximately 60% of new mothers breastfeed but only about 20%
are still breastfeeding after 6 months. The AAP also recommends not introducing solids until 6 months so that
the baby gets only breastmilk (if possible) during this important time.
Commercial formulas attempt to immitate breastmilk. However, there are many things that science cannot
reproduce. Some of the amazing facts about breastmilk include:
If you are unsure about breastfeeding or are considering stopping breastfeeding, please read the section entitled
"Why Breast is Best" in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and the chapter entitled "Breastfeeding: Why and How"
in The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears. (See the books page for more informationon on these books.)
These two books go into detail about the amazing qualities of breastmilk. I thought I knew alot about the benefits
of breastfeeding but was amazed at what I read in those books. It made me glad I had decided to breastfeed.
- Premature babies who were breastfed for the first 4-5 weeks had an average of 8.3 points
higher on IQ tests 7.5 years later. (From The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears. See the
- There are at least 400 nutrients in breastmilk that are not found in formula.
- The nutrients in breastmilk are specifically designed for the human infant and therefore are more easily
absorbed by the baby's system. For example, between 50-75% of the iron in breastmilk is absorbed whereas only
about 4% of the iron in formula is. Since less nutrients are absorbed from formula,
the nutrients are passed through your baby's digestive system
as waste (explaining why the stools of formula fed babies smell
while those of breastfed babies do not)
and may over-tax the waste-disposal system of formula-fed babies. The stools of breastfeed babies are
non-offensive because there is less waste from breastmilk.
- Breastmilk composition changes according to the time of day, and changes as your baby grows, giving him
exactly what he needs.
- Each drop of breastmilk contains white blood cells and immunoglobins which help reinforce the baby's immature
- Colostrum contains an antibody (IgA) only available to the baby by breastmilk (it is not passed through
the placenta) which protects the baby from germs which enter the baby from the throat, lungs, and intestines.
These germs are only a problem after delivery and therefore the mother provides this for the infant at its
time of need (delivery) through colostrum. These antibodies are most plentiful a few hours after birth so it is important
to feed the baby during this time. (From The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League)
- Mother can make antibodies on demand for germs encountered by baby. If a baby is infected by a germ for which an antibody is not present in the mother, the germ is passed from the
baby to the mother by sucking at the breast. The breast in turn produces an antibody for the germ and passes it
back to the baby. (From The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League)
- Body fat of a breastfed infant is different from that of a formula fed infant and specifically designed for
the baby. The fat in breastmilk contains high levels of cholesterol which not only help the brain and nervous
system develop but may protect the grown adult from having high cholesterol levels.
- Long term benefits include increased protect
- Breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, allergies, diarrhea, bacterial meningtis, and lower risk of SIDS.
It may also protect against diabetes and childhood lymphoma.
- Studies have shown breastfed babies have better oral development and fewer dental problems.
- Breastmilk contains sleep-inducing proteins to relax your baby. Also the act of baby sucking releases
hormomes in the mother which relax her.
- Breastmilk contains a large amount of water so breastfed babies normally do not need any additional juices or water.
- Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and early breast cancer.
La Leche League
Homepage for the La Leche League. One page I found especially helpful was
which contains a number of articles on everything from common breastfeeding concerns and milk supply issues to
weaning and breastfeeding multiple babies. I found information here that
I hadn't seen before in any of the books I've read.
One article even helped me with a problem that even the lacation consultant I talked with couldn't!
Another great page is
Frequently Asked Questions.
It answers lots of questions, ranging from "Can I color my hair while breastfeeding?"
to "Can I spoil my baby by nursing him so much?"
How Breast Milk Protects Newborns
Article from Scientific American discussing how breastfeed babies have fewer infections.
Breast is Best
Includes information and links on breastfeeding, toddler nursing, breastfeeding in the Bible, and starting solid foods, etc.
Why you should breastfeed!
Has inspiring stories from women who have breastfed,
conversations with lacation consultants, and breastfeeding links.
Advantages of Breastfeeding
A list of the benefits of breastfeeding.
The Breastfeeding Advocacy Page
This web site advocates a change in our culture,
to an acceptance of breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies. Great Site!
Kaiser Permanente Research on Breastfeed Babies
Infants who were breastfed for a minimum of 6 months
experienced $1,435.00 less health care claims than formula fed infants.
The Breastfeeding Page
This site has links to articles on breastfeeding information,
discussions, and issues.
Breastfeeding & Nutrition General Information
A ton of breastfeeding links.
The Vegan Diet During Pregnancy and Lactation
Discusses how can you meet the increased needs of
breastfeeding and pregnancy by following a vegan diet.
Breastfeeding articles, products, and other resources.
Lots of information.
Through ecological breastfeeding, women can naturally space their babies without using any birth control.
This involves frequent nursings by the baby (breastfeeding on demand). This is achieved through mother/baby
togetherness, having breastmilk be the primary food for baby (not supplementing with formula),
feeding frequently at night (hormomes that encourage ovulation are released more at night),
and not using
pacifiers which may reduce the baby's need to suck at the breast. It is the frequency of the baby sucking which allows
this to happen. When the baby sucks at the breast, it signals the mother to release hormones which
The books page of this site has a book by Shiela Kippley which talks about ecological breastfeeding in depth.
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing : How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies by Sheila K. Kippley
Talks about natural mothering and how it is used to space babies. This isn't a breastfeeding how-to book
(like the ones below) but stresses the benefits and ways of natural mothering.
Goes into a lot of detail and is very good if you are considering ecological breastfeeding.
The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins
I have read a number of breastfeeding books and this one is my favorite for getting started.
The book is a great source of information, and includes an appendix listing drugs that can affect
breast milk. I found the entire book to be extremely helpful.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Le Leche League
Very comprehensive. Discusses everything from nursing the newborn baby to nursing the toddler,
diet, fathers and breastfeeding, family bed / nighttime parenting, even has a page on ecological breastfeeding, etc.
It is a thick book and very pro-attachment parenting. It is much more than a breastfeeding manual. I loved it!
I have heard similar positive comments and recommendations from people I know.
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