Garron R Hale, MD

Diplomate, American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is more than a lifestyle choice — it’s an important health choice. Any amount of time that you can do it will help both you and your baby. There are many benefits of breast milk for mothers, babies, and others.

Benefits for Babies, Moms, and Families

  • Breastfeeding is normal and healthy for infants and moms.
  • Breast milk has disease-fighting cells called antibodies that help protect infants from germs, illness, and even SIDS. Infant formula cannot match the exact chemical makeup of human milk, especially the cells, hormones, and antibodies that fight disease.
Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems:
In Infants: In Moms:

Studies are still looking at the effects of breastfeeding on osteoporosis and weight loss after birth.

  • Breast milk is different from infant formula. Colostrum, the thick yellow first breast milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth, will give your baby the best start at life. It is known as “liquid gold.” It is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby as he or she first enters the world. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold. A newborn stomach is only the size of a large marble at first!
  • Your milk changes over time to meet your baby’s needs. Your breast milk that begins to be made by the third to fifth day after birth has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby’s growth. It will be a thinner type of milk, but just as full of all of the nutrients and antibodies for your baby.
  • For most babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula. It takes time for their stomachs to adjust to digesting the proteins in formula because they are made from cow’s milk.
  • Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
  • When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated.
  • Breastfeeding makes your life easier. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!
  • Breastfeeding can save you between $1,160 and $3,915 per year, depending on the brand of formula.
  • A mother can satisfy her baby’s hunger right away with breastfeeding.
  • Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby, helping them bond. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.
  • Breastfeeding during an emergency can save lives.

Benefits for Society

  • Breastfeeding saves on health care costs. Total medical care costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants since breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
  • Breastfeeding contributes to a more productive workforce. Breastfeeding mothers miss less work, as their infants are sick less often. Employer medical costs also are lower and employee productivity is higher.
  • Breastfeeding is better for our environment because there is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.

The U.S. Surgeon General Recommends Breastfeeding

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that babies be fed with breast milk only for the first six months of life. This means not giving your baby any other food or drink — not even water — during this time. Drops of liquid vitamins, minerals, and medicines are, of course, fine, as advised by your baby’s doctor. It is even better if you can breastfeed for your baby’s first year or longer, for as long as you both wish.

Solid iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereals and pureed vegetables and meats, can be started when your baby is around six months old. Before that time, a baby’s stomach cannot digest them properly. Solids do not replace breastfeeding. Breast milk stays the baby’s main source of nutrients during the first year. Beyond one year, breast milk can still be an important part of your child’s diet.

About Us

Dr. Hale started practice in Scottsdale, AZ in July of 1971 with specialty of women\'s health. He is currently board certified in OB & GYN and a member of the American College of OB-GYN. His training was at a university hospital at the Oregon Center of Health Science in Portland, Oregon (rated in top 5 in the world for training of OB-GYN).