No, breastfeeding is not a necessity. In fact, for some moms and babies it can be impossible. Not every woman lactates, some babies have underlying issues that special formula milk can help counteract, and moms on certain prescription medications may accidentally pass those medications onto their child.
However, in most cases, breastfeeding is best for a baby, especially when the mother eats a balanced diet. Breast milk is naturally made for human infants and can provide them with protection from diseases (including a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome and allergies). Some studies also show breastfed babies are less likely to become obese and have higher intelligence. Most experts recommend at least six months of strict breastfeeding only. Breastfeeding is good for mothers too—it may lower the risk of cancer and causes a natural influx of hormones that reduce stress, thus combating postpartum depression.
So while breastfeeding isn’t necessary, and sometimes it isn’t better, in the long run it is generally the best option.
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