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It has been claimed that if 90% of American women breast fed their new babies for at least six months, that the lives of 900 babies would be saved every year. According to the research published in the Pediatrics journal, breastfeeding for these vital first six months could avoid health problems and actually save billions of dollars inmedical expenses.
The leading author of the paper, said the link has been "vastly under-estimated". When you add up the medical costs associated with the ten most frequent childhood ailments and the cost associated with treating them, plus the hours away from work that parents have to take in order to look after their sick child.
The composition of breast milk is very complex and ideally suited to the needs of new babies. It contains antibodies (that help fight infection), it affects insulin levels in the blood (which means babies are less likely to develop diabetes) and breastfed babies are less likely to develop obesity.
43% of American women breastfeed their babies to start with. 12% breast feed for as long as 6 months.
In Britain, the statistics are even less impressive. 76% of new mums breastfeed at the start and only 2% go up to six months. It seems that as soon as they encounter problems, they are advised to get a bottle and feed with a formula rather than getting the support and help required to overcome problems and continue feeding naturally.
In Austrailia about 18% of new mothers are still feeding at six months.
The World Health Organisation recommends that ALL babies are breastfed until six months.
Many mothers, especially young mothers feel uncomfortable feeding especially when out and about. But, it needn't be so. There are so many tops designed for "easy access" and a muslin thrown over a shoulder while feeding can give ample cover and thus protect the modesty of any mum. Once mums are confident at feeding, then doing it in public becomes second nature and should be encouraged!
Breastfeeding is also a wonderful way to bond with your child in a unique and special way. A few moments of calm, spent close to each other while having a lovely warm cuddle.
After all, breast feeding is the most natural and beautiful thing in the world for a new mum to do!