Breastfeeding and Its Benefits

Every year I write quite a few blogs that review the breastfeeding research for the previous year.  Each year the research is overwhelming on the benefits of breastfeeding.  The more I learn, the more I want to see churches, schools, and health care program do more to educate their people about these blessings God wants to give babies and their mothers.  Certainly the Church should be doing more to teach the abstinence-free natural baby spacing that results from the right kind of breastfeeding.

I’m excited to inform our readers about some important research that was recently published.  Two studies deal with situations that are sometimes controversial—SIDS and bonding.

Breastfeeding (partial or exclusive) for two months cuts the risk of SIDS in half.   The longer the mother breastfeeds, the greater the protection.  (Pediatrics, October 2017)  A common reaction to SIDS is a fear-inducing message to new parents that they must never sleep with their baby.  On the contrary, the truly safe sleeping pattern is one that follows the safe-sleeping rules.  For guidelines on safe bed-sharing with baby, go to links at the NFP International website ( left column) .

The other research showed that breastfeeding aids bonding between mother and child up to age 11.  As the researchers concluded: “Breastfeeding was observed to have positive consequences for maternal sensitivity beyond the infant–toddler period. Mothers who persisted in breastfeeding for a longer duration increased their maternal sensitivity over time, suggesting that breastfeeding may set in motion a cascade of positive benefits for mothers in their parenting behaviors.”  Mothers and child were observed at 8 different times during the course of this study which involved 1,272 families. The mothers averaged only 17 weeks of breastfeeding.   “It was surprising to us that breastfeeding duration predicted change over time in maternal sensitivity,” said the study’s lead author, Jennifer Weaver, PhD, of Boise State University. “We had prior research suggesting a link between breastfeeding and early maternal sensitivity, but nothing to indicate that we would continue to see effects of breastfeeding significantly beyond the period when breastfeeding had ended.”   (Developmental Psychology, October 2017)

The next four blogs will deal with the importance of the mother’s breastfeeding and her presence to her baby.
Sheila Kippley


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