The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding
Breastmilk contains a 100% correct ratio of calories, fat, protein, fluid, vitamins, and minerals essential for a baby's development and growth.
The benefits of breastfeeding mentioned below will hopefully prove that by breastfeeding your baby, you are giving them the best gift possible.
How Long Should You Breastfeed?
Exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life provides the maximum benefits, but if you can breastfeed longer, that's even better!
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Why is Breast Milk Best?
- Breast milk contains antibodies, which will strengthen your baby's immune system.
- The nutrients and vitamins in breast milk are more easily absorbed than those in formula; this is why formulas are fortified with sometimes double the amounts of nutrients and vitamins.
- Breast milk protects your baby's gut against all types of illnesses.
- Your breast milk changes with your baby's needs to provide for their specific growth and nutritional needs.
- Children that are breastfed experience less diarrhea and spitting up.
- Babies that are breastfed have been found to have a reduced chance of constipation and colic.
- There is a lowered risk of childhood diabetes in breastfed babies.
- Breastfed children have a lower chance of asthma, eczema, ear infections, and bronchitis.
- Another great benefit of breastfeeding is that breastfed babies have a decreased risk of tooth decay.
- Improved brain and nervous system development.
- There is a reduced chance of heart disease later on in life.
- Breastfeeding provides a special bond between the baby and the mother.
- It lowers the risk of childhood obesity.
- Breastfed babies are less likely to get thrush.
- In breastfed premature babies, breathing and temperatures are more stable.
- Breastfed babies are more content and cry less than formula-fed babies.
Advantages of Breastfeeding for Mom
- Lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancers. The longer a mother breastfeeds during her lifetime, the lower her chance of breast cancer. While breastfeeding, your body is given the much-needed break it needs. Your body produces less estrogen; therefore, there will be less strain on your breasts and uterus.
- Breastfeeding helps a mother get that pre-pregnancy body back. Most breastfeeding Moms find it easier to lose the extra pounds after birth compared to non-breastfeeding mothers. Milk production is a metabolic process that requires between 200 and 500 extra calories per day. A non-breastfeeding mother would have to do an hour of spinning (stationary bicycle exercise) every day to burn that many calories.
- Natural child spacing. Breastfeeding helps delay fertility so that pregnancies are not too close. Breastfeeding should not be used as the sole method of contraception.
- Breast milk is free, which saves you money. You won't need to buy expensive formulas and bottles.
- Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, preventing bleeding and promoting uterine contractions. The uterus returns to its normal size quickly.
- Breastfeeding releases feel-good hormones, which will lower a mother's chance of postpartum depression.
- Breastfeeding Moms are four times less likely to develop Osteoporosis; they have also been found to develop fewer hip fractures later in life.
- Lower risk of iron deficiency. Because Mom may skip a few months of menstruation during breastfeeding, she will lose less iron, preventing anemia.
- Breastfeeding is convenient—no bottles to wash or warm, no formula mixing. Your breast is always ready, and your breast milk is always at just the right temperature! There is also no cleaning up to do afterward. :-)
- A special bond. Breastfeeding Mothers have the added advantage of the hormone Oxytocin, which is released while breastfeeding. Oxytocin is also known as the "love hormone," which promotes bonding between Mom and Baby.
- Mom is calm. The hormone Prolactin, released during breastfeeding, has been found to have calming effects.
- Mom is forced to sit down/lie down and rest. You cannot run around while breastfeeding; this is a good thing; it forces a mother to relax.
The advantages of breastfeeding for mothers are often overlooked. It is clear that breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby's well-being and is as important (if not more) to the mother.
Breastfeeding Benefits on the Environment
- Breastfeeding reduces healthcare costs because breastfed babies become ill much less than formula-fed babies. (Even later in life)
- Why? Well, it is known that breastfed babies are healthier than their formula-fed counterparts!
- Reduced pollution because breastfeeding reduces the need to manufacture and dispose of artificial milk.