According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 80 percent of women choose to breastfeed their children. However, only about 60 percent choose to breastfeed exclusively for six months. Though there are personal circumstances that can restrict women from breastfeeding for six months or longer—issues with latching, effects of medications or unsupportive work policies—there are many health benefits that may empower women to breastfeed longer.
Breast milk has unique properties that protect babies from many illnesses such as earaches, colic, allergies, pneumonia and diabetes. Furthermore, breastfeeding can help protect moms from breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis. Breastfeeding women also burn about 600 additional calories per day, which helps them return to a normal body weight more quickly.
An obvious benefit of breast milk is that it’s free and always available. Breast milk is portable and will always be the right temperature, so feeding your baby doesn’t require extra planning when you want to leave the house. However, some women are hesitant to breastfeed because it may be uncomfortable or they may feel as though it’s not publicly acceptable. To combat these barriers, more options and tools are becoming available so women can confidently feed their babies in public.
Beyond the health and convenience benefits, breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby. According to a study done by the American Psychological Association, women who breastfeed their children longer exhibit more maternal sensitivity well past the infant and toddler years. When babies experience skin-to-skin contact, such as during breastfeeding, it allows them to relax and feel more connected to their mother. For mothers, breastfeeding is a great way to build a relationship with their baby while reducing their stress levels and lowering their risk of depression.
Choosing to breastfeed is a personal decision and though there are benefits of doing so, there are great feeding alternatives that will still allow mothers to bond with their babies in a way that works for them. If you are planning on having or have recently had a baby, you could qualify for an early enrollment period. Certain qualifying life events (QLE) may make you eligible for a special enrollment period. QLE’s are life-changing events such as job loss, income change, marriage/divorce and birth/adoption of a child to name a few. Learn more here and get affordable health insurance that you and your baby deserve.