How long should I breastfeed my baby to get the most benefit?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a healthy infant during the first six months after birth, with other foods added slowly while continuing to breastfeed for the first year or longer.

Because babies do not develop their own immune systems right away, breast milk provides them with antibodies from the mother that can help protect them from disease.

In fact, babies fed breast milk have decreased incidents of the following conditions:

• Bacterial meningitis

• Diarrhea

• Respiratory tract infection

• Necrotic intestinal tissues

• Inner ear infections

• Urinary tract infection

• Late-onset sepsis in preterm infants

• Decreased rates of SIDS

• Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

• Lymphoma

• Leukemia

• Hodgkin’s disease

• Obesity

• Asthma

A mother with accurate breastfeeding information during pregnancy, assistance with breastfeeding soon after birth and access to support once home, is likely to reach or surpass her breastfeeding goals. More mothers are continuing to breastfeed after returning to work, as availability of breast pumps and support in the workplace grows. Though any amount of breastfeeding has value, the longer a mother breastfeeds her baby, the greater the benefits.

Many resources for breastfeeding information and support are available in our community including La Leche League, WIC, and hospital-based breastfeeding support, such as The Breastfeeding Center at East Jefferson General Hospital.

Please contact the Breastfeeding Center of EJGH at 504-454-4323 for more information on breastfeeding, including classes and support groups.