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Why Breastfeed?

Every expectant or new mother thinks about providing the material necessities for her baby that we have come to associate with modern infant care, including furniture, clothes, and convenience items. But the truth is, babies have been raised for thousands of years without benefit of luxuries like changing tables, deluxe strollers, hooded baby towels, or colorful sleepers. No material gift that can be purchased for your baby will ever be as significant as the gift of yourself. As you prepare for parenthood, remember that only a mother can give her baby the priceless gift of superior nutrition, improved health, optimal development, and unique intimacy that comes from the decision to breastfeed. Is it worth it? The answer is a resounding "yes!"

The advantages of breastfeeding compared to formula-feeding are numerous, diverse, and convincing. These advantages extend not only to babies but to their mothers, families, and society. One might assume that the merits of breastfeeding would be widely recognized and enthusiastically promoted within families, the health care system, and the greater community. The truth is that the advantages of breastfeeding must be rediscovered by each new generation of parents. While the marketing of infant formulas represents a lucrative industry, human milk attracts little commercial interest. Expectant parents get bombarded with advertising from infant formula companies, while the promotion of breastfeeding depends largely on testimonials from other mothers and the endorsement of enlightened health professionals. Breastfeeding proponents may not have any slick ads or a big advertising budget, but nothing has yet been manufactured by man that can compete with the natural benefits breastfeeding can provide your baby, yourself, and your family.

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From Dr. Mom's Guide to Breastfeeding by Marianne R. Neifert. Copyright © 1998 by Marianne R. Neifert. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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