As any new mom can tell you, everyone has an opinion when it comes to breastfeeding—why it’s good, why it’s not, how you should do it, how long you should do it for, and the list goes on. But regardless of personal beliefs, the health benefits to both mom and baby have been proven time and time again, which is why this recent study really caught my attention.

According to experts at the CDC, not even half of all U.S. moms breastfeed as long as experts recommend (which in case you’re wondering is 6 months exclusively, then up to 2 years or longer with appropriate foods), and not even a quarter of new moms are still breastfeeding after a year. On top of that, even though a high percentage of moms start breastfeeding right after birth, research shows that many of them switch to bottle feeding pretty soon after.

The main focus of the study was actually to see if there was a connection between breastfeeding and childhood obesity rates, and guess what? Breastfed babies are actually less likely to have problems with obesity as they grow older. I wasn’t surprised by this, since I know how important breastfeeding is for newborn babies.

Breast milk is, in essence, a source of complete nutrition straight from Mother Nature, chock full of essential nutrients and powerful antibodies that help to establish a newborn baby’s natural defense system in the gut, which in turn helps protect them against everything from allergies to digestive problems to chronic disease and yes—even weight gain—later on in life.

Breastfeeding is also important for women, since studies show that mothers who breastfeed lessen their risk of breast, ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers, and it even helps protect against osteoporosis and bone fractures as they age. But to be honest, this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overwhelming health benefits of breastfeeding, so if you or someone you know is expecting, be sure to pass the word along!