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Your Life

Q&A: Breastfeeding Benefits?

Am I a bad mommy if I don’t breastfeed? How will it affect my baby?

Of course you’re not a bad mommy… but do give nursing a chance. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends breastfeeding for the first year, and exclusively for the first six months. A mother's milk contains the ideal nutrients, enzymes and antibodies for baby. Breastfed babies are less likely to have diarrhea, ear infections, respiratory illness, allergies, stomach bugs and colds. Plus, nursing decreases future risk of obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer. And, it's a great way to bond with baby. Need more? Studies link breastfeeding to higher IQs.

There are perks for you, too. Six months of formula will set you back about $500… breastmilk, not a penny. It’s always available, requires no preparation, and comes out at the perfect temperature. Worried about losing the pregnancy pounds? Yep, breastfeeding will help. It’s also been linked to decreased breast and uterine cancer and osteoporosis rates, helps you heal more quickly down below, and works (not perfectly!) as birth control. At the hospital, a lactation consultant can help you get comfortable with the nursing process. Your local La Leche League also offers support.

That said, if breastfeeding just won't work for you, skip the guilt trip. As long as you take good care of baby, the best fuel you can feed her is love.

By Paula Kashtan