We’ve heard many times that breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for you and your baby. But did you know that by breastfeeding, you’re doing something good for the environment, too?
Breast milk has lifelong health benefits for both mother and child. Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and Dietitians of Canada recommend feeding healthy term babies only breast milk for the first six months of life.
Breast milk gives a baby all of the energy and nutrients it needs during its first six months.
On top of all the health benefits to breastfeeding, it is “green,” too. When you look at the costs that formula has on the environment (by making, packing, transporting, selling, and marketing it), breastfeeding wins every time.
Formula requires agricultural production, which may involve land clearing for farming or chemical fertilizers and pesticides for soybeans.
Infant formula also may be wasted when it is thrown away if the baby does not finish a bottle, which isn’t as likely to happen with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, shrinks our carbon footprint on the environment. It reduces our need for many commercial products, plastic bottles, and fuel for transportation.
Breast milk remains one of our most valuable renewable resources. Each of us has a role to play in the promotion and support for breastfeeding so parents can make informed decisions to ensure the best nutrition for their babies.
The choice to breastfeed is an individual one. Some mothers may not choose to breastfeed, or exclusively breastfeed, to six months for personal and/or social reasons.
Respecting the infant feeding wishes of families, offering words of encouragement, and providing a supportive workplace can make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of all of us, as well.
For more information about breastfeeding or formula feeding, visit www.nwhu.on.ca or call your local Northwestern Health Unit and ask to speak with a registered nurse or dietitian.