Over the past decades the world has made great strides to encourage women to breastfeed, based on the assumption that it grants big benefits to babies and moms. But newer and bigger studies-of-studies have cast doubt on some of breastfeeding’s biggest assumed benefits. Is it still “best”? We break down some of the newest information on breastfeeding’s benefits and drawbacks:
Does breastfeeding make babies smarter?
The World Health Organization 2007 meta-study found no association with breastfeeding and higher IQ points.
Will breastfeeding make my baby healthier?
Breastfeeding can’t keep your baby from ever getting sick, but the extra antibodies do make breastfed babies statistically less likely to get respiratory illnesses, bouts of diarrhea and ear infections during the time that they’re breastfed.
Does breastfeeding help you lose weight?
Possibly! Not only does it help you lose pregnancy weight in the short term, there’s strong evidence it may help women keep the pounds off for life. Even three months of breastfeeding can help speed the extra pounds off, and the evidence appears to show that keeping it up for at least 6 months is associated with fewer BMI points for life.
Will breastfeeding help keep my baby from growing up to be overweight?
While some studies have appeared to show an an association with breastfeeding and adults who grow up to have healthier weights and blood pressure, lower cholesterol and less type-2 diabetes, larger meta-studies that controlled for income and other factors have found no difference between breastfed and bottle-fed babies when it comes to weight.
Does breastfeeding reduce the risk of SIDS?
Many studies have found a strong association between breastfeeding up to six months and a reduced risk. If you can’t breastfeed then a pacifier and a fan in the baby’s room also significantly reduces risk.
Is it supposed to hurt?
A lot of new moms report some kind of nipple pain during the first weeks of breastfeeding- sometimes really bad, seeing-stars kind of pain. Interestingly the amount of pain reported varies by culture, with only 11 percent of South African women reporting pain, and about 80 percent of American and Australian women. Pain can be caused by something called nipple vasospasm, where blood flow is reduced and nipples turn white and throb, or by improper latch or an infection. If pain continues for more than a few days, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant.
Do I have a right to pump at work?
If your company is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA)— they engage in interstate commerce and do more than $500,000 in business- and you’re an eligible employee, then yes. They must provide you reasonable time and a private place to pump that is not a bathroom.