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Is Breastfeeding Right for You and Your Baby?

If you’re an expectant mother, you already have a lot on your mind. One concern may be whether or not to breastfeed your baby. Horizon BCBSNJ wants you to have the information you need so you can make an informed choice.

Good for Baby

Breast milk has the nutritional elements (such as fat, sugar, water and protein) that babies need for development, as well as antibodies, which help protect them from infections. Plus, breastmilk is often easier than formula for babies to digest.

Good for You

Breastfeeding uses up extra calories, which makes it easier for moms to lose postpartum weight and for the uterus to return to its original size. It also can reduce postpartum bleeding. Studies have shown that women who breastfeed may lower their risk for breast and ovarian cancer as well as type 2 diabetes. Research also has linked breastfeeding with lower incidences of anxiety and postpartum depression.

Eating Right for Breastfeeding

You may have heard that omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (also called DHA) and alpha linolenic acid (also called ALA) can have positive effects on a baby’s brain and eye development. Women who breastfeed are encouraged to eat natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in:

  • Cold water/oily fish, such as salmon, tuna or anchovies and fish oils. Avoid fish with high mercury levels.
  • Green leafy vegetables.
  • Some seeds and nuts, such as flax seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
  • Some legumes, such as soy beans, kidney beans and navy beans.

However, you should always discuss any diet changes with your doctor.

Do What’s Right for You

There may be health reasons that prompt your doctor to advise against breastfeeding, so it’s important to discuss with your doctor the best way for your baby to get the nutrients he or she needs.

Sources: National Women’s Health Information Center, WebMD® and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This information has been created and supplied to you courtesy of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. The information is general in nature and is intended to provide you with increased understanding of the topics discussed to help you and your family get and stay healthy. It is not intended as a substitute for the professional advice and care of your doctor. If you have any questions or concerns about your health or the health of any of your family members, contact your doctor.