August has been designated as National Breastfeeding Month and was formed by the United States Breastfeeding Committee in 1995. If you are considering breastfeeding and would like to learn more about some of the benefits then you are in the right place.
There are many benefits for both moms and babies when it comes to breastfeeding. Let’s start with the benefits for the baby.
Breast Milk Provides Nutrients For The Baby
It is recommended by most healthcare professionals to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first 6 months or longer.
A mother’s breast milk contains essentially everything a baby needs for the first 6 months of life. The right proportions and the composition will even change according to the changing needs of your baby, especially during the first month of your baby’s life.
Your breasts produce colostrum during the first days after birth. It is a thick, yellowish fluid that is high in protein and low in sugar. Colostrum is loaded with beneficial compounds. It is truly a superfood that your body produces naturally.
Colostrum is the ideal first milk for your baby and helps their immature digestive tract develop. After the first few days, your breasts will start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby’s stomach grows.
The only thing that may be lacking from your magical milk supply is vitamin D. Generally, vitamin D drops are recommended, unless you already have a very high intake of vitamin D.
Breast Milk Contains Important Antibodies
A mother’s breast milk is loaded with antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, which are essential in the first months of life. The colostrum provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), along with several other antibodies only found in breast milk. IgA protects the baby from getting sick by forming a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat, and digestive system.
Breastfeeding May Reduce The Risk Of Infections & Diseases
Along with so many other benefits, breastfeeding also helps to reduce the risk of acute infections and some diseases. Such as diarrhea, pneumonia, ear infection, Haemophilus influenza, meningitis, and urinary tract infection. It also protects against chronic conditions in the future such as type I diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Breastfeeding during infancy is associated with lower mean blood pressure and total serum cholesterol, along with a lower prevalence of type-2 diabetes, overweight, and obesity during adolescence and adult life. When you breastfeed it delays the return of your fertility and reduces the risks of postpartum hemorrhage, premenopausal breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding Promotes Optimal Brain Development
Will breastfeeding play a role in your baby’s brain development? It is beneficial to the developing brain not just for the nutritional effects but also for the mother and infant interactions are a factor. The findings in preterm infants that are offered donor milk do not appear to benefit neurodevelopment, whereas maternal milk feeding does provide some support for this hypothesis. Mothers who provide their own milk may be more engaged in other ways with their infant, and this engagement with the mother could explain differences in infant brain development independent of nutritional aspects of maternal milk.
Benefits For Mom
Helps The Uterus To Contract – Breastfeeding helps to stimulate the release of oxytocin from your brain. Oxytocin allows your baby to get the breast milk from your breasts, and it causes your uterus to shrink down after the birth of your baby. Although breastfeeding can be a challenge for some, oxytocin triggers the let-down reflex and can foster bonding, both of which can help make breastfeeding easier.
Lower Your Risk Of Depression – Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that can develop shortly after childbirth. Women who breastfeed are less likely to develop PPD. If you do experience symptoms of PPD, contact your healthcare provider.
Reduces Your Risk Of Disease – Breastfeeding provides you with long-term protection against certain cancers and several other diseases.
Women who breastfeed have a lower risk for:
Gives You A Break From Menstruation – Continued breastfeeding can also pause ovulation and menstruation. Your period may stay away for weeks, months, or maybe longer.
Saves time and money – Breastfeeding is mostly free. There may be some expenses for lactation consulting and breast pumps you may need. By choosing to breastfeed, you won’t have to:
- spend money on formula
- calculate how much your baby needs to drink daily
- spend time cleaning and sterilizing bottles
- mix and warm up bottles in the middle of the night (or day)
- figure out ways to warm up bottles while on the go
As you can see there are many benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby. Although breastfeeding seems apparently easy for some mothers it can be frustrating for others. If this is truly something you want for you and your baby don’t give up. There are some great resources to help guide you and your baby along the way.
At OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we provide a variety of services. No matter your age or medical history, we’ll help you feel comfortable and answer all of your reproductive health-related questions. Call us today to schedule an appointment.