There are few things more impressive than a woman breastfeeding a baby. Not only does breastfeeding bond a mother and child, it also provides long lasting health benefits for both. That is why the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months and then continuing to give your baby breastmilk alongside solid foods as your breastmilk will adapt to meet your growing baby’s changing needs.
Breastfeeding will put your baby and yourself in the best possible position to tackle new life and new motherhood.
# Breastfeeding will boost your baby’s health
The health benefits that breastfeeding provides to your baby are countless.
The antibodies contained in a mother’s breastmilk are so impressive they have yet to be replicated by any scientists. These antibodies help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria alongside lowering your baby’s risk of developing asthma and allergies (particularly important if there is a family history of either!). They also reduce the risk of your baby contracting urinary tract infections, ear infections and respiratory infections such as pneumonia and colds.
Alongside protective antibodies, breastmilk will also provide your baby with oligosaccharides that encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive system, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that help develop the brain, eyes and nervous system and cytokines that boost immune system formation.
Crucially, research has shown that breastmilk decreases the rates of sudden infant death syndrome and post neonatal infant mortality.
What’s more, some of the health benefits of breastmilk continue far beyond infancy. Teenagers and adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to develop conditions like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.
As you can see, breastfeeding prioritizes your baby’s health and continues to be so later in life!
# Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby
Breastmilk provides the ideal nutrition for infants with an ideal mix of proteins, fats and vitamins. These are essential for your baby’s healthy physical growth and breastfed babies are at a far lower risk of diabetes or obesity later in life.
Researchers argue that a breastfeeding mother is far more in tune with her baby’s hunger levels than a mother feeding a baby on formula: the former will be able to tell when the baby is full and stop feeding based on the baby’s physical cues while for the latter using a bottle risks the baby being fed after it is full. These habits will continue in later life: when the infants move to adult food the breastfed baby will be more likely to stop eating when they reach fullness whereas the baby who was fed by the bottle may continue eating in excess.
Impressively, by breastfeeding you are also exposing your baby to a whole platter of tastes and flavors: your breastmilk will be affected by your diet so you can ensure that your baby is being exposed to a healthy variety of food groups. Obviously, this is not possible when using formula milk which offers little to no variety.
# Breastfeeding is the easiest food for your baby to digest
When you feed your baby on formula you always risk the milk causing stomach upset, diarrhea and constipation to your child. However, breastmilk is naturally far easier for your baby to break down making it more easily digestible and a far more soothing food source.
A well-fed baby is a happy baby. And a happy baby makes a happy mother!
# Breastfeeding might boost your baby’s IQ level
Interestingly, many studies have linked breastfeeding with higher IQ scores in later childhood. This is also while taking socioeconomic factors such as where the baby is raised and their family income into account.
It is believed this correlation is due to the fatty acids that are naturally contained in breastmilk. These fatty acids help develop your child’s brain.
So, if you breastfeed your baby you might just end up with the next Einstein!
But the benefits of breastfeeding are not limited just to your baby. As a breastfeeding mother you can also reap many rewards.
# You will build a strong bond with your baby
A positive for mother and child: the skin to skin contact in breastfeeding will help bring your baby close to you and make it feel secure in your presence.
Breastfeeding will allow a regular and scheduled time for you and your baby in which you have the opportunity to shower your child with cuddles and kisses.
Importantly, this regular affection in the early stages of infancy have been shown to drastically reduce social and behavioral problems later in life. And in the short term, babies who are breastfed are significantly less likely to cry and have far fewer incidents of childhood illness.
# Your health will improve
Breastfeeding will improve your physical and mental health.
It will lower your risk of developing a variety of cancers (including breast and ovarian), weak bones or hip fractures and cardiovascular disease. In fact, in general mothers who breastfeed are in a healthier state than those who do not and on average have up to six times less absenteeism from work due to illness.
As a breastfeeding mother you are also far less at risk of developing postpartum depression. Instead, you are more likely to benefit from increased confidence and self-esteem as breastfeeding produces oxytocin and prolactin: hormones that naturally soothe and promote positive feelings and stress reduction.
# Your fitness will improve
Alongside a million other worries, women are often concerned about returning to their pre-pregnancy size after giving birth. Exhausted from labor and with a new-born who does not sleep regularly, it can be hard to find time to exercise. Fortunately, breastfeeding means you will burn around 500 extra calories a day building and maintaining your milk supply.
In the meantime, breastfeeding also releases the hormone oxytocin which helps your uterus return to its normal size.
# Breastfeeding will save you money, fuss and time
Being a new mother is expensive and chaotic. Thankfully, breastmilk requires no preparation or sterilization as it is always fresh, clean and the perfect temperature! You will also save a fortune not buying an endless supply of formula and never risk not having milk in stock.
Furthermore, no food product is more sustainable or less wasteful for the planet!