You’ve probably been bombarded with information about breastfeeding your baby. Although it’s your decision, the benefits can be endless.
Let’s look at all the benefits for both you and your baby before you make a decision.
Breastmilk provides babies with optimal nutrition. Breast milk is rich in nutrients, easily digestible, and readily available.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months. This should continue even after solid food is introduced.
Because breastfeeding continues to be beneficial, the World Health Organization (WHO), recommends that breastfeeding is continued until two years of age or moreTrusted Source For the greatest benefits, these agencies recommend that breastfeeding be started as soon as possible after birth.
These recommendations are not taken lightly.
These 11 science-based benefits of nursing are great for both you and your baby.
Benefits of breastfeeding for babies
- Breast milk is a great source of nutrition for babies
Healthcare professionals generally recommend that exclusive breastfeeding be continued for at least six months, or longer.
Breast milk provides everything a baby needs during the first six months of his life. It is in the right amounts. The baby’s changing needs can even alter the composition of breast milk, particularly in the first month.
Your breasts will produce a thick, yellowish liquid called colostrum within the first few days of your birth. It is rich in protein, low sugar and full of beneficial compounds. It is truly a miracle food that cannot be replaced by any formula.
Colostrum, the ideal first milk, is beneficial for the baby’s developing immature stomach. As the baby grows, the milk production in the breasts increases over the next few days.
Vitamin D is the most important thing you might be missing from your magical milk supply.
Your breast milk will not provide enough vitamin D unless you consume a lot (which most people don’t). Vitamin D drops are often recommended.
- 2. Breast milk contains important antibodies
Breast milk contains antibodies which help protect your baby from bacteria and viruses. This is crucial in the infant’s first months.
This is especially true for colostrum, which is the first milk. Colostrum contains high levels of immunoglobulin A, as well as many other antibodies.
You produce antibodies when you are exposed to bacteria or viruses. These antibodies then get into your milk. It’s called immunity!
IgA prevents a baby from getting sick by creating a protective layer in their nose, throat and digestive systemTrusted source
Babies are not protected by formula. Numerous studiesTrustedSource have shown that infants who aren’t breastfed are more susceptible to infections, such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
- Breastfeeding may lower your risk of developing a disease
Exclusive breastfeedingTrusted source, which means that only breastmilk is given to the infant, is especially beneficial.
This may help reduce the risk of your baby getting many diseases and illnesses, such as:
Infections of the middle ear. Breastfeeding exclusively, as long as possible, can protect against sinus, middle ear, and throat infections well into adulthood.
Respiratory tract infections. Breastfeeding can help protect against severalTrusted Source acute respiratory and gastro-intestinal illnesses.
Infections and colds. Breastfeeding babies for six months is a better option than if they are exclusively breastfed.
Gut infections. A reduction in intestinal infections can be linked to breastfeeding.
Intestinal tissue damage. Preterm babies who are breastfed with breast milk have a lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitisTrusted source
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is less likely when you breastfeed exclusively.
Allergy. Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower riskTrusted Source: asthma, atopic dermatologtitis and eczema.
Bowel disease. Breastfed babies may be less likelyTrustedSource to develop Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Diabetes. Breastfeeding is linked to a reduced riskTrusted Source of developing type 1 diabetes and non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes.
Childhood leukemia. A reduction in childhood leukemia risk is associated with breastfeedingTrusted Source
- Breast milk encourages healthy weight for babies
Breastfeeding encourages healthy weight gain and prevents childhood obesity.
According to a studyTrusted Source, breastfeeding for more than four months has been shown to significantly reduce the chance of your baby becoming overweight or obese.
This could be due to different types of gut bacteria. Breastfed babies have higher levelsTrusted Source (beneficial gut bacteria), which can affect fat storage.
Breastfed babies also have higher levels of leptin than those who are formula-fed. Leptin is an important hormone that regulates appetite and fat storage.
Breastfed babies can also regulate their milk intake. They eat less when they are full, which is a good sign for healthy eating habits.
- Children may be smarter if breastfed
These tests may be easier for babies who are breastfed. According to some studies, formula-fed babies may have a different brain development than breastfed babies.
This could be due to the increased intimacy, touch and eye contact that breastfeeding provides, as well as the nutrient content.
According to StudiesTrusted Source, breastfed babies are more intelligent and less likely to have behavioral or learning problems as they age.
Preterm babies are at greater risk of developing developmental problems, so they suffer the most severe effects.
ResearchTrusted Source clearly shows that breastfeeding has positive effectsTrusted Source on long-term brain development.
- Breastfeeding can help you lose weight
This is a common saying. Some women gain weight while breastfeeding, but others lose it quickly.
Breastfeeding can burn more caloriesTrustedSource, and you will likely see a greater fat loss after three months of breastfeeding. The difference is not significant.
- Breastfeeding can help the uterus contract
Your uterus expands tremendously during pregnancy. It can grow from the size of an apple to almost filling your entire abdomen.
Your uterus undergoes an involution process after delivery. This allows it to return to its original size. This is a process that Oxytocin (a hormone that rises throughout pregnancy) helps to drive.
To help with labor and to reduce bleeding, your body releases high levels of oxytocin. It can help you bond with your baby.
Breastfeeding can also increase the levels of Oxytocin. It stimulates uterine contractions, reduces bleeding, and helps the uterus to return to its former size.
Research has also shown that breastfeeders have a lower risk of blood loss and a faster involution.
- Breastfeeding mothers have a lower chance of depression
A type of depression called postpartum depression (PPD), can occur shortly after childbirth.
According to a 2012 studyTrustedSource, women who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression than mothers who wean later or don’t breastfeed.
Postpartum depression is more common in women who have given birth soon after giving birth. They also tend to have difficulty breastfeeding, even though they do it for a shorter time.
Tell your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of PPD.
- Breastfeeding lowers your risk of developing a disease
Breastfeeding appears to offer long-term protectionTrusted source against cancer and other diseases
A woman’s total breastfeeding time is associated with a lower risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding mothers have a lower chance of:
High blood pressure
High blood fats
Heart diseaseTrusted source
type 2 diabetesTrusted Source
- Breastfeeding can prevent menstruation
Continued breastfeeding can also cause a pause in ovulation or menstruation. Nature may be trying to give you some time between pregnancies by suspending your menstrual cycle.
This may be a bonus. It’s one less thing you have to worry about while you spend precious time with your baby.
- It saves you time and money
The best part is that breastfeeding is almost free. There are no fees for breast pumps or lactation consulting. You don’t need to breastfeed if you choose to.
Spend money on formula
Calculate how much water your baby requires daily
Spend time sterilizing and cleaning bottles
Mix and heat up the bottles during the day or night.
Find ways to heat up bottles while you are on the move
Breast milk is always at the perfect temperature and ready for consumption.