Benefits of Breastfeeding

First off, I am so glad you are here and that you plan on giving breastfeeding a shot. Breastfeeding is the BEST way to give baby nutrition and don’t just take my word for it. Dr. Ruth Petersen on the CDC website states, “Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby.” 

The AAP’s official statement says, “Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice.” Such a bold statement from the AAP that breastfeeding is not only a lifestyle choice, it is a choice you are making in regards to your child’s health and I know you are here because you want to give your child the best start in life and their health that you could possibly give. 

You will find statement’s like this on every expert website. I know many people will come back with fed is best and of course it is, if the point you are making is for the baby to starve or to feed them but when you are talking about formula versus breastfeeding there is no question that breast milk has more going for it.

Of course there are many valid reasons women choose to not breastfeed, but I think becoming as educated as you can about the benefits of breastfeeding and then making an educated decision is the best route, and that is why I am here. I am here to show you all of the great benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby. After you have done all the research and you still decide to go with formula or your breastfeeding journey doesn’t work out for some other reason, then that is OK! There is nothing wrong with your decision and your baby is still going to turn out perfectly well and you are a great mom. 

The moment that stands out to me as the time I knew for sure that I wanted to breastfeed was when I was in nursing school. I was doing a rotation on labor and delivery and one of the nurses showed me this poster hanging on the back of her door. The poster showed the benefits of breastfeeding versus the benefits of formula. The formula side was only 2-3 lines long whereas the breastfeeding benefits spanned the whole length of the door. At this time I did want to have kids but I wasn’t at a point where I was going to have them because I wanted to finish nursing school, but this stood out so much to me that 4 years later I still think of this moment and all of the reasons to breastfeed. Let’s review some of those reasons below. 

For baby

Let’s start off with the benefits of breastfeeding for baby. Breastmilk comes with loads of nutritional value tailored to exactly what your baby needs. It decreases rates of childhood diseases and conditions because mom shares her antibodies with baby. It also decreases the risk of cavities as well as the need for braces because breastfeeding helps form the palate. 

As if that was not enough it helps promote sleep! That thing that is so precious in those first months of baby’s life. Why not do something that is going to help baby sleep, on the other hand you also don’t have to get up in the middle of the night and warm up a bottle, you are ready to go the second that your baby needs you. 

It also is shown in studies that breastfed babies have lower rates of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). When my baby was under 6 months of age, SIDS is something I worried about Every. Single. Night. It freaked me out. I was already so attached to this precious little baby after carrying him for 9 months (I’m sure most moms are) that the thought of something happening to him kept me up many nights. I did everything recommended to decrease rates of SIDS.

For Mom

I know moms are not selfish creatures and they mostly want to do what is best for baby but there are also many great reasons to breastfeed that are great for mom too! Breastfeeding leads to quicker recovery times and increased bonding with baby. It can also decrease stress and anxiety as it produces hormones like prolactin and oxytocin which relax you. It also is proven to reduce rates of breast and ovarian cancer as well as reduce risk of other diseases like type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease. 

Alright possibly the best reason out there to breastfeed, it delays your period (for most women) until you are done exclusively nursing. Typically around 6 months when baby starts solid foods mom will start her first period after giving birth. I got to say, this alone is a good enough reason for me to breastfeed my child. It can also be a good method of contraception. It can be quite effective as long as you are nursing baby on demand and baby is not eating anything else and you aren’t pumping. Most providers will recommend that you still get on some other sort of birth control. 

Some moms will lose weight while breastfeeding. Don’t worry if this isn’t you! All you need to worry about mama is putting nutritious food in your body because that directly affects the breast milk you are giving to baby.

So really why not?! Breastmilk is completely free, you don’t have to prepare any formula, you can take it with you everywhere you go with no prep and to be honest you feel like super woman when you watch the number on the scale get bigger when you take baby to pediatrician visits. Oh and also it’s good for the environment. 

Breastmilk does what?!

Breastmilk does lots of amazing things but let’s look at a couple of specifics. Breast milk contains antibodies specific to what baby needs. If you are sick you will give baby these antibodies and hopefully decrease the risk of severe illness in baby. In fact, breastfed babies have lower rates of hospitalizations in their first year of life.  

Breastmilk can also change flavor depending one what you eat and can expose baby to different flavors well before trying solid food. 

Your breastmilk also changes its water content to what baby needs. On hot days your breast milk will have more water content to help keep your baby hydrated.

Breast milk is amazing and changes in many ways to keep your baby happy and healthy. 

Conclusion

Breast milk is amazing in how much it can adapt to what baby needs, and it is also amazing how the act of breastfeeding can be so beneficial to both mom and baby. What is something that you look forward to with breastfeeding or that you loved during your breastfeeding journey with your baby?

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