The personal benefits of breastfeeding

During your pregnancy, you may be asking yourself whether you should breastfeed or bottle-feed your child. There are advantages to both, and you may even want to use both. Splitting feeding duties with your partner or another caretaker is hard to accomplish without bottle-feeding, even if you want to feed your child naturally most of the time. 

However, studies suggest that breastfeeding may be helpful to your long-term health. A recent study from the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease highlighted a possible link between breastfeeding and Alzheimer's. Your insulin tolerance decreases during fetal development, but breastfeeding replenishes your ability to cope with the hormone. Because of Alzheimer's disease's association with insulin resistance, experts believe that women who don't breastfeed may have trouble coping with it later in life. Doctors involved in the study also thought that the amount of progesterone lost during breastfeeding may be beneficial, as the body produces more during pregnancy. 

What the study found
Notably, the Alzheimer's study only surveyed 81 British mothers between ages 71 and 100, both those with and without the disease. While this is less than the number of people usually used in research, the scientists involved felt that the strong link between Alzheimer's and breastfeeding is too hard to ignore. They discovered that women who breastfed and had a longer breastfeeding history had a lower risk of Alzheimer's, while women with a higher ratio of the time they were pregnant in comparison to the time they spent breastfeeding had an increased risk of Alzheimer's. 

For many mothers, the issue of breastfeeding is not an issue at first. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 77 percent of U.S. infants are fed this way at first. This amount drops to 49 percent after six months and to 27 percent after one year. To establish good breastfeeding habits, the organization recommended that mothers hold their children in skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth and remain with them during a hospital stay. You and your child can benefit from this contact even if you're not breastfeeding him or her, as it will help establish feeding cues from the breast or bottle. 

Feed your child and help stay fit
The Times of India pointed out one more benefit to breastfeeding: It burns calories. Breastfeeding can feel like a lot of work, and there's some truth to that. If you're breastfeeding, you'll burn 500 calories every day. While this alone may not get you back to your pre-birth weight, it's one more way breastfeeding can benefit you personally. 

Of course, not all mothers can breastfeed their children. If you have to work soon after birth, you can pump milk and refrigerate it for later. This will allow a caretaker to nourish your child, or let you bottle-feed your baby when you're feeling sore. 

Are you considering breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your child? If you did breastfeed him or her, how long did you keep at it? Let us know!