Breastfeeding provides many benefits to you and your baby. Realize that it takes time to feel fully confident, as breastfeeding is more than an instinct—it is a learned art. Be gentle on yourself, try to limit your activities, take good care of yourself, and ask for help and support. Remember that Beaumont lactation consultants are always here if you have any questions or concerns.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
There are many benefits of breastfeeding for baby that can boost his or her overall health during infancy. Some studies also show that breastfeeding can have a positive impact on baby’s health as he or she grows and develops.
The benefits of breastfeeding include:
- Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants.
- The first milk, called colostrum, is a gentle and natural laxative that helps clean your baby's intestine, which reduces the chance of jaundice occurring.
- A mother’s milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein needed for a baby’s growth and development.
- Babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
- Breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should; they tend to gain less unnecessary weight and be leaner, which may result in having fewer weight problems later in life.
- Breastfed infants experience fewer illnesses as children and are less likely to develop chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, Crohn’s disease and different cancers.
- Breast milk can increase the effectiveness of immunizations and increase your baby's protection against diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTaP) vaccines.
- Some studies have shown that the activity of sucking at the breast improves the development of your baby's muscles, facial bones and teeth.
- Premature babies tend to do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
The benefits of breastfeeding don’t end with baby. Moms may benefit from choosing to breastfeed, especially exclusively, both in the near and long term. Mom’s breastfeeding benefits include:
- Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds of pregnancy. It also helps the uterus get back to its original size and lessens any bleeding a woman may experience after giving birth.
- Breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding (no supplementing with formula), delays the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. However, you should still talk with your doctor or nurse about birth control choices.
- Breastfeeding your children lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and it may also reduce the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
- Breastfeeding can save time and money; you do not have to purchase, measure and mix formula, and there are no bottles to warm, which is especially convenient in the middle of the night.
- A mother can give her baby immediate satisfaction by providing her breast milk whenever and wherever her baby is hungry.
- Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby.
- Breastfeeding can help a mother bond with her baby. The skin-to-skin contact increases mothering hormones, such as prolactin and oxytocin, leaving breastfeeding mothers with increased feelings of closeness and bonding, as well as greater self-confidence. This physical contact is important to newborns and also helps them feel more secure, warm and comforted.