My doctor suggested that when our baby is born to
breast-feed for the first year. I was shocked. My mother
did not nurse any of her three children and we seemed
to turn out fine, so I was wondering if the benefits were
really worth it. It seems like such a big commitment.
Recent research shows that lack of stimulation in
infancy dramatically affects the developmental progress
of children. Physical closeness, hugging, eye contact,
and the human voice play a significant role on their
ability to relate to other people later in life. Breastfeeding
addresses the physical and emotional bonding
needs between a mother and child. It also stimulates
the child's physiological systems. The baby receives the
helpful antibodies from mother's milk, and it has been
determined that even ear infections are fewer in breastfed
There are also helpful effects for Mom! Nursing releases
a natural hormone in the mother that keeps her
serotonin, norepinephrene, and dopamine levels normal.
This bodily function diminishes the possibility of
postpartum depression and anxiety. And of course the
baby is receiving the kind of attention necessary to help
insure a well-adjusted child. In short, breast-feeding has
many benefits for both mother and child and should not
be discounted for the sake of convenience or tradition.
In fact most mothers rave about the simplicity of
nursing and the money saved not spent on formula.
This does not mean that bottle-fed babies cannot be
secure, well-adjusted children, but nursing does provide
Answered by: Robert Rice, M.D.