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Health Awareness Campaigns: Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has many positive benefits for moms and their babies and is the ideal method of feeding and nurturing infants. Human breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants and protects them from a wide array of infections and other health problems. If you are thinking about breastfeeding, consider the following benefits both for you and your child.

Breastfeeding is important for babies.

  • Protects your baby from infection—even the milk produced during the first few days after birth is packed with antibodies that fight infection.
  • Reduces your baby’s risk of severe chest infections like pneumonia, ear infections, and stomach issues.
  • Helps your baby’s immune system develop and lowers the risk of asthma, allergies, type 1 diabetes, and childhood leukemia.
  • Reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Reduces your child’s risk for obesity.
  • Improves your child’s ability to learn and process information.

Breastfeeding is important for moms.

  • Helps your body recover from pregnancy. For instance, breastfeeding helps with postpartum weight loss.
  • May reduce your risk of ovarian, endometrial, and breast cancer.
  • May reduce your risk for osteoporosis later in life.
  • Mothers who don’t breastfeed may face higher risks of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Reduces costs since breastfeeding is cheaper than formula feeding.
  • Releases hormones that not only help the milk flow, but increases a mother’s sense of calm and well-being. These hormonal changes may reduce your risk for postpartum depression.

Let VA Help. Click here*† for more information about breastfeeding benefits to both mom and baby. Call or visit your local VA Medical Center and ask for the Women Veterans Program Manager to get information about breastfeeding support and supplies (including breast pumps as well as nursing bras and other supplies).

Breastfeeding is challenging.

Despite the many rewards and health benefits of breastfeeding, it can be challenging. For example:

  • Being the sole source of nutrition for your infant is not always easy.
  • Many nursing mothers have sore nipples, breast engorgement (very full breasts) when their “milk comes in”, and occasionally breast infections that require treatment with antibiotics.
  • Some women have had breast surgery that can reduce the amount of human milk they produce. These women may have to feed their infants with formula in addition to the milk they produce.
  • Breastfeeding can be stressful. For instance, a lack of support by family, social network and/or colleagues can cause discomfort and anxiety. If you are a breastfeeding mother,
    one way to reduce stress is to make sure that you continue to take care of yourself, including developing support networks with friends and family and other women who are breastfeeding. Also, stay in touch with your healthcare providers about ongoing medical or mental health conditions.

While breastfeeding offers many benefits to mom and baby, it may not be the right infant feeding choice for everyone.

  • Some women may have physical challenges that make breastfeeding and/or pumping breast milk difficult or impossible.
  • Others may have personal reasons why breastfeeding is not the right choice.
  • Some women may take certain medications that make breastfeeding impossible.

Every mother is unique. Work with your healthcare provider to decide on the best method.

Resources

Health Awareness Campaigns: Breastfeeding Poster
Dimensions: 11x17", (1.6 MB, PDF)

Thumbnail of Healthy Awareness Poster: Breastfeeding

Health Awareness Campaigns: Breastfeeding Poster
Dimensions: 8x11'', (700 KB, PDF)

Thumbnail of Healthy Awareness Poster: Breastfeeding

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*By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.
†VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked Web site.