Breastfeeding. It’s a personal decision. It’s the way God made mothers; it’s best for baby; blah blah blah. Look, in a perfect world, breastfeeding would be a beautiful, wonderful bonding experience for every mama out there, and we would all do it for just the perfect amount of time before creating a national scandal by nursing your preschooler on the cover of a magazine.

But it’s not a perfect world, and that’s why God gave us scientists and nutritionists to make formula. Or something. But if any of you moms-to-be out there are still wavering on the whole issue, a new discovery might influence your decision: Breastfeeding exclusively for six months significantly reduces your chances of getting cancer later in life.

That’s right -- we knew it was healthfully beneficial for baby, but who knew it was for mom too? Researchers have studied the effects of breastfeeding on nearly 380,000 people over 13 years and have found that exclusively nursing your baby for six months can cut your chances of dying from cancer and other diseases by 17 percent!

Part of the same study found that lowering your intake of red meat and alcohol can also contribute to better health. Yeah ... I don’t think I’m going to do that either.

It’s cool and all that yet another benefit of breastfeeding has been found, and it’s a testament to how awesome the human body is -- but breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. I nursed my first daughter for a full year, and my second for a scant two months, and I feel like I had a much better experience with little sister.

It wasn’t even a supply issue, or painful mastitis, or anything other than the fact that I simply didn’t want to. And that’s ok. It should be ok for moms to make parenting decisions that make them the best moms they can be. It’s freaking hard enough as it is; we don’t need other people making us feel like bad mothers because we didn’t do the best of everything.

So yeah, it’s a cool stat and may make the difference to some moms in deciding how to feed their babies, but it’s still fine to shake up that bottle of formula. And if you’re really worried about not getting that added cancer-fighting-whatever-it-is, there are other things you can do like eating well and exercising.

It’s all about balance.

Would this information have influenced you when you were deciding how to feed your infant?


Image via Life Mental Health/Flickr