Hidden Benefits Of Breast Feeding

Besides the obvious reasons to breast feed - saving money, better nutrition, bonding - there are lesser known benefits. Here are a few more reasons to nurse your baby.

Should you breast feed your baby? There are so many benefits to nursing, and most expectant mothers have heard them. Breast milk provides the baby with better nutrition than formula. Breast milk is free. It's convenient, always fresh, sterile, and the correct temperature. It provides antibodies to prevent illness, and protects against allergies. Nursing also provides a great opportunity for bonding between mother and child. These are the obvious reasons, but there are some additional benefits you may not have known.

Breast milk is an incredible substance. Unlike formula, it is "live" - it actually contains live cells and antibodies. Not only does breast milk keep babies healthy from the inside, it also has antibacterial properties that work on the outside of a baby's body. And remarkably, it can also benefit other members of the family! Acne, mosquito bites, burns, chapped lips, cold sores, and cuts and scrapes have all been known to benefit from an application of breast milk. Breast milk helps to heal diaper rash and even poison ivy. It can be used like saline solution to clear stuffy noses, and can be applied to reduce eye puffiness.

Pinkeye, sties, and other eye infections may be cured by applying breast milk directly into the affected eye. And even if you don't believe the claims about breast milk's healing properties, you should at least try it next time your child gets sand in his eye at the playground. At just the right temperature, it does not sting and makes an excellent eyewash.

Babies often like to nurse at night, but doctors recommend that babies stop feeding at night after their teeth come in for fear of promoting tooth decay. But breast-fed babies are at less risk of tooth decay due to breast milk's antibacterial properties. Therefore, it's safe to feed them at night and even let them fall asleep while doing so. Breast milk can also discourage tooth decay from improper brushing after meals.

Breast feeding benefits the mother, too. It delays the return of menstrual cycles, helps to prevent postpartum depression, and helps with weight loss after pregnancy. Breast feeding has also been shown to protect women from developing breast cancer, and other forms of cancer.

Breast milk is not a miracle cure for all ailments, nor should it be used instead of conventional medical care. It can, however, be a convenient and free form of first aid for minor problems. Because it is so useful and readily available, expectant moms should consider these additional benefits when making the decision between breast milk and formula for their babies. Even if formula is used as a supplement, any breast milk is better than none. If nothing else, I've found that having a handy eyewash at the beach can make the difference between a happy day and misery!

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