To some this may seem like a silly question, but other may seriously wonder if this is a worthwhile endeavor. After all, it does take some time an effort to learn, requires that the mother be the one to feed the baby in the wee hours of the night, and can pose challenges for those that are returning to work. In this day and time we all know that "breast is best", but does it really make that big of a difference? Here are just a few facts to consider as you decide for yourself.

For the mother
  • Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size and helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
  • Breastfeeding reduces your risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.
  • Breastfeeding is more convenient. You don't have to worry about sterilizing bottles or running out of formula, and you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to make your baby's meal.
  • Formula feeding is expensive, breastfeeding is free!
  • Breastfeeding causes your body to release oxytocin and prolactin, which are "mothering hormones" that promote bonding and relaxation.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding suppresses the return of menstruation and may allow you to avoid other forms of birth control.

For the baby
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of many diseases, including diabetes, allergies, asthma, intestinal diseases (such as Crohn's disease), and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Formula fed babies have higher rates of middle ear infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, and pneumonia.
  • Formula fed babies are more likely to struggle with obesity as adults.
  • Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby. The composition of breastmilk changes as your baby grows, providing optimal nutrition for each stage of life.
  • Children who were breastfed average 8-10 I.Q. Points above those who were formula fed.
  • Breastfeeding promotes proper oral development.

Breastfeeding is not just a healthy choice, it’s also an economical choice. And the longer you breastfeed, the more the savings add up. As babies mature, they eat more. If you’re bottle-feeding, that means your expenses grow along with your baby. Nursing, by contrast, costs no more at six months than it does at six days.

In a 1998 study, Dr. Marta Sovyanhadi of the Long Beach, California, Department of Health and Human Services estimated it costs a mother only $90.36 in extra calorie intake to breastfeed an infant for the first six months.

You also are saving in healthcare costs for your baby. Studies show breastfed babies get sick less often, need fewer doctor visits, and are hospitalized less often than formula-fed babies. For working mothers, that means an added savings of less time lost on the job.

The chart below shows what not having to buy bottles and formula saves you, based on how long you nurse. *By breastfeeding you are saving well over $1,000 the first year. That’s money you can spend on other things, like education, savings, or a special treat to make nursing even easier!

* Figures include the average cost of brands of premixed and powdered formula available in grocery stores here in Northampton, Massachusetts, as well as the purchase of four bottles and nipples every two months.

Cost of Formula and Bottles Month Cumulative Nursing Savings

1 $102

2 $196

3 $320

4 $443

5 $567

6 $691

7 $815

8 $938

9 $1,062

10 $1,186

11 $1,309

12 $1,433

More benefits check out's 101 reasons to breastfeed .