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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:50 pm
Breast-feeding has advantages for both mother and baby. Most importantly, breast milk provides certain nutrients as well as natural antibodies to fight infection, that formulas don't have. Breast-feeding is strongly recommended for the first four to six months, and is especially beneficial for premature or low birth-weight babies. Infants that are breast-fed tend to be less constipated than bottle-fed babies, because breast milk is easier to digest. They also have fewer instances of diarrhea, fewer illnesses, and less odor in their bowel movements. Ingredients in breast milk have even been shown to aid final development of the brain. If the mother can't breast-feed during the day because of her job, she can extract her milk with a breast pump, and store it in bottles. Then the caregiver can feed the infant as needed. Breast-feeding costs far less than formula feeding. However, if you feel your baby isn't gaining enough weight, you can always supplement breast milk with formula. Remember that when breast-feeding, everything you consume affects the baby. Eat a nutritious diet, but limit your intake of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and beans. These otherwise healthy foods can give the baby painful gas. Avoid alcohol, and consult your doctor before taking any medication. On average, women who breast-feed will need to eat an extra 900 calories a day. For more information on breast-feeding, talk to a health care provider, or contact a lactation (lack-TAY-shun) consultant.

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