The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby and Mom
There are so many great benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your new baby! Find out what they are, and why breastfeeding is so important.
For many moms, there are multiple factors that go into the decision to breastfeed - lifestyle, finances, personal preference, family support, cultural considerations, and more. But most moms agree that at the top of that list are the extensive health and developmental benefits for your baby. The benefits of breastfeeding start with the first feeding right after delivery and continue even after baby is weaned and into later life. Check out some of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding for your baby as you consider breastfeeding versus supplementation!
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
- The benefits of breastfeeding begin the first time you nurse your little one. When breastfeeding, you and your baby create a special bond unlike any other. Hormones released when you feed your little one can also lower stress levels.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS and increases the effectiveness of immunizations.
- When at your breast, the suckling action of your baby strengthens his or her oral muscles and facial bones while supporting good dental development.
- Breastfeeding supports brain development and is shown to improve IQ scores later in life.
- An additional breastfeeding benefit is that it may help prevent obesity and lower your child's risk of developing diabetes in adolescence and adulthood.
Benefits of Breast Milk
Thre's a reason why it's often called "liquid gold" - the benefits of breast milk and what it can do for your baby is truly amazing.
- The first feedings contain colostrum, which delivers a high concentration of antibodies. The laxative effect of colostrum gently clears baby's intestines, which decreases the chance of jaundice.
- Breast milk also provides a breastfeeding baby with defense against some common childhood illnesses (ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, types of meningitis, and more). It can protect against some chronic conditions like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and even some childhood cancers.
- As you continue breastfeeding baby, that liquid gold containing antibodies, enzymes, and white blood cells protects them from viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections and illnesses.
- Baby's immune system benefits greatly from your breast milk, as it encourages the growth of probiotics and "good bacteria" in the digestive tract.
- Additional immune components in breast milk provide protection against food allergies and eczema early in life.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
It's not just your baby who gets breastfeeding benefits - You also experience many benefits from breastfeeding!
- A unique and fulfilling experience. Many moms share that the breastfeeding experience is an extremely fulfilling one that makes them feel especially close to their baby.
- Releases good hormones. The hormones prolactin and oxytocin are released when you nurse your little one. These hormones contribute to feelings of peace, attachment, and love for your baby.
- Burns calories. Your body burns between 300 - 500 calories a day producing breast milk in the first three to 12 months postpartum, quickly helping you lose some of that pregnancy weight.
- Helps you recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. Oxytocin released while breastfeeding helps quickly return the uterus to its regular size and reduces postpartum bleeding.
- Reduces rates of breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Studies show that the health benefits of breastfeeding extend for many years of life.
- May reduce the risk of disease. Some studies show that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.
- May delay the return of your menstrual cycle. Prolactin, the primary hormone responsible for breast milk production, prevents menstruation. Some moms may not get their period at all while breastfeeding, while others may experience only very light and/or irregular periods.
- Feeding your newborn is faster and easier. Middle of the night feedings are much easier without extra trips to the kitchen or having to prepare and warm bottles first!
How Long Should You Breastfeed Your Baby?
Wondering how long to breastfeed your baby? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it's recommended to exclusively breastfeed your baby for about the first six months of his or her life. Breastfeeding can continue for a year or longer, alongside the eventual introduction of solid foods.
While you may have challenges along your breastfeeding journey, keep reminding yourself of the benefits of breastfeeding and all the valuable things that liquid gold is doing for you and your baby.