Healthwatch: Benefits of Breastfeeding

Health care officials say there is a long list of benefits to breast-feeding, not the least of which is protecting the newborn.

"All of the mother's antibodies that she has pass on to the baby through the breast milk," said Lisa Primeaux, board-certified lactation consultant for Rush Hospital.

Rush is the only Meridian hospital to have them on staff. Primeaux says the breast milk improves the baby's brain function and its chances to be healthy, even diminishing the risk of some diseases later in life.

"Little girls, the longer they are breast-fed have lower chances of ovarian cancer and breast cancer," Primeaux said. "The mother, too. But they've just discovered or found out that that helps the baby girl."

And Primeaux says the longer a baby is breast-fed, the healthier it will be.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a mom breast-feed for at least six months, exclusively, and then as they add food, they're still breastfeeding, but for a year," said Primeaux. "And then they say you can, it depends on mom and baby how much longer after that, because some babies nurse longer than a year."

Primeaux says she's available to answer questions for mothers even after they're discharged from the hospital, and return to the workplace.

She says it requires a lot of effort and planning for mothers who work outside the home, but pumps make it possible for the baby to have that vital nourishment for a longer period of time.

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