10 Reasons Why
Breastfeeding Doesn't Suck...

1. It releases bonding hormones.
Just like kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact), breastfeeding releases the “bonding hormone” oxytocin. The same hormone that’s released when you hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin provides a feeling of closeness between you and baby while it moves milk toward the front of your breasts -- the process known as letdown.

2. It may lower the risk of childhood cancers…
On top of giving baby a healthy start with your breast milk’s antibodies, which help protect baby from the cold and flu, breastfeeding may even boost his ability to fight off more serious stuff. A study published in the Journal of Human Lactation found high levels of the cancer-fighting TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) in human milk. This means better protection against illnesses like lymphoblastic leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease.

3. ...and breast cancer in mamas!
Get this: Moms who breastfed were 1.5 times less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who didn’t in a study from Columbia University. And the more children they breastfed, the lower their risk became. According to the National Cancer Institute, breastfeeding is associated with decreased risk of ovarian cancer too.

4. It may boost baby’s brainpower.
Add breastfeeding to the list of ways to get an edge on the SATs. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry followed nearly 14,000 children over the course of six-and-a-half years, and the kids who were exclusively breastfed had a significantly higher average IQ test score than those who weren’t. Plus, on average, they received higher ratings from their teachers.

5. You could save on braces.
The longer you breastfeed, the lower the likelihood that baby will suffer from malocclusion -- a fancy word for misalignment of the teeth and dental arches. A study from Brazil suggests that breastfeeding for more than nine months is the most effective way to prevent malocclusion.

6. Diaper changes won’t be as stinky.
Moms in our circle swear that breastfed babies have sweeter smelling poop than formula-fed babies, whose stools smell more like, well, adult poop. Formula isn’t quite as easily digested, and the remnants that are left behind make the poop bulkier and pungent.

7. Allergies and ailments are no biggie.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, food allergies, eczema and asthma are less common in babies breastfed for at least four months -- likely due to colostrum and breast milk’s influence on immune responses in a newborn’s lymphoid tissue. Translation: fewer trips to the doctor’s office.

8. It’s super-convenient.
Breastfeeding allows you to dole out the perfect portion of ready-to-serve milk at baby’s beck and call. There’s no boiling or mixing necessary. You’ve just become the most efficient short-order cook around.

9. Oh, and it'll save you a ton of cash too.
Believe it or not, formula and supplies for just six months can cost upwards of $1,500. While double electric breast pumps can be pricey -- some go for more than $200 -- many insurance plans will cover them.

10. You may fit into your skinny jeans faster!
Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories a day. And while not every nursing mom drops back into their pre-pregnancy weight in a flash, plenty give breastfeeding props for helping them lose some of the pounds.

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The Lowdown on Breastfeeding:
We asked, you answered…

From nursing in public to weaning pressures, find out what thousands had to say on these topics and more in our latest breastfeeding poll.

Photo: Veer

Over the last few months, we polled thousands of women – some pregnant, some new moms, some who haven't yet started their families, and even some who aren't planning to – and asked them all to weigh in with their thoughts, experiences, and opinions when it comes to breastfeeding.

So what did we find? Turns out, most women polled agreed that BFing is just about the best thing a mama can do for her baby – and herself. (In fact, a whopping 73% of women felt this way.) But what really shocked us? Despite being considered so natural and beneficial, breastfeeding anywhere but home still makes some mamas think twice. Not only did 40% of new moms say they would only do it in public if absolutely necessary, but 23% refuse to do it at all! What's more, 20% of non-moms answered "Eww, in private please!" when asked what they thought of public breastfeeding. Which begs the question: How can something most of us see as so "natural" still be considered so taboo and uncomfortable – especially by other women?

Read on for some other interesting factoids we unearthed...

On breastfeeding problems

-56% of first-time moms reported trouble BFing and 41% still had issues with Baby #2 and beyond.

-76% of mamas who had difficulty breastfeeding had help from a lactation consultant or coach in the hospital, while 19% still sought help from a professional lactation consultant after coming home.

On the pressure to breastfeed

-45% of moms feel women today are definitely pressured to breastfeed.

On weaning

-46% of women polled (and 54% of moms) think breastfeeding moms are pressured to wean before they'd like to.

-30% of all respondents feel the "right" age to wean baby is between 7 months and 1 year, while the largest percentage of moms (38%) think it should happen naturally when baby is ready.

On breast milk vs. formula

-79% of women polled felt that breast milk is healthiest for baby, while 19% believe formula to be just as healthy.

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