Some of the physical benefits of breastfeeding for the mother include reduced rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that "human milk is uniquely superior for infant feeding" and recommended that mothers breastfeed for a minimum of one year after the birth of a child.
Researchers in New Zealand have found that the longer babies are breastfed, the higher they score on intelligence tests later in childhood. An extensive psychological study measuring IQ and academic performance showed that children who were nursed for more than eight months consistently out-scored children raised on formula in reading comprehension and mathematical ability.
Human milk is the ultimate in renewable resources. It's there as soon as the baby arrives, in the quantity the baby needs, for as long as the mother and baby want it. Human milk is delivered to the consumer without any pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste. For instance, 80,000 US mothers who breastfeed their babies for six months save 17,200 tons of tin that would have been used just for formula containers, not to mention the production and shipping costs.
Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against many childhood illnesses, including ear infections, upper and lower respiratory ailments, allergies, intestinal disorders, colds, viruses, staph, strep and e coli infections, diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, many childhood cancers, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, salmonella, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS) as well as lifetime protection from Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, some lymphomas, insulin dependent diabetes, and for girls, breast and ovarian cancer.
When babies are born, their immune systems are very immature and they have less ability to fight illness-causing germs. Through your breast milk, you give your baby immunities to illnesses to which you are immune and also those to which you have been exposed. Nursing also allows your baby to give germs to you so that your immune system can respond and can synthesize antibodies!
~ Contributed by South Berkshire County La Leche League