The benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby
What are the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby? Breastfeeding is strongly encouraged because it’s so beneficial to the mother and baby. But aside from nutritional and bonding enhancements, it can also reduce health risks for some short- and long-term conditions.
Breastfeeding benefits for baby
Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for babies
Breast milk contains everything a baby needs for the first 6 months of life, in all the right proportions. Its composition even changes according to the baby’s changing needs. Colostrum is the ideal first milk and helps the newborn’s immature digestive tract develop.
Breast milk contains important antibodies
Breast milk is loaded with antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, which is critical in those tender, early months. Colostrum provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as several other antibodies. It’s immunity, baby!
Breastfeeding may reduce disease risk
Exclusive breastfeeding is particularly beneficial. In fact, it may reduce your baby’s risk for many illnesses and diseases, including middle ear infections; respiratory tract infections; colds and infections; gut infections; intestinal tissue damage; sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); allergic diseases; bowel diseases; diabetes; and childhood leukemia.
Breast milk promotes baby’s healthy weight
Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity. This may be due to the development of different gut bacteria.
Breastfed babies also self-regulate their milk intake. So, they’re better at eating only until they’ve satisfied their hunger, which helps them develop healthy eating patterns.
Breastfeeding may make children smarter
Some studies suggest there may be a difference in brain development between breastfed and formula-fed babies. This difference may be due to the physical intimacy, touch, and eye contact associated with breastfeeding as well as nutrient content. Studies indicate that breastfed babies are less likely to develop behavioral problems and have learning difficulties as they grow older.
Breastfeeding benefits for mother
Breastfeeding may help you lose weight
While some women seem to gain weight during breastfeeding, others seem to effortlessly lose weight. Breastfeeding does burn more calories, and after 3 months of lactation, you’ll likely experience an increase in fat burning compared to non-lactating mothers. Though the difference isn’t significant.
Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract
During pregnancy, your uterus grows immensely, expanding from the size of a pear to filling almost the entire space of your abdomen.
After delivery, your uterus goes through a process called involution, which helps it return to its previous size. Oxytocin helps drive this process. And this hormone also increases during breastfeeding.
Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk for depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that can develop shortly after childbirth. Women who breastfeed seem less likely to develop postpartum depression. However, those who experience postpartum depression early after delivery are also more likely to have trouble breastfeeding.
It reduces your disease risk
Breastfeeding seems to provide you with long-term protection against cancer and several diseases. The total time a woman spends breastfeeding is linked with a reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk for high blood pressure, arthritis, high blood fats, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
It may prevent menstruation
Continued breastfeeding also pauses ovulation and menstruation. The suspension of menstrual cycles may actually be nature’s way of ensuring there’s some time between pregnancies. While you’re enjoying precious time with your newborn, it’s just one less thing to worry about.
The pharmacist at your nearest The Local Choice Pharmacy is available to provide more advice and assistance on this topic. Visit them today. We are here for you!
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually from 1 until 7 August.
Disclaimer: All content on the The Local Choice Pharmacy is created and published online for informational purposes only. It should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health advice.