The main reason mamas chose to breastfeed is because of the well-known benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby.
Long before I was a mother myself I was extremely passionate about breastfeeding and helping other mamas along their breastfeeding journey…because I knew of ALL the amazing benefits it provides not only to babies but also to mamas too.
Whether you are on the fence about wanting to breastfeed your expectant child or you have already decided to breastfeed, you may be wondering what the benefits, to both you and your baby, are.
There is a constant flow of research on the benefits of breastfeeding and we continue to learn more and more every day about breastfeeding and breastmilk. While this list could be endless and I could continue to edit it with more and more…I have decided to break it down into just a number of benefits that interested me (and I believe will interest you!)
Let’s get started talking about the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby!
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
More commonly, women chose to breastfeed because it is general knowledge that breast is best for babies. Breastmilk is specifically developed by your body to meet the specific needs of your baby. The more you learn about breastmilk, you will truly see just how incredible it is.
Your breastmilk will also continue to change day to day, month to month in order to meet your baby’s needs based on their growth, what your baby is exposed to in their environment, etc.
Below is one of my favorite handouts that I used to hand out to newly pregnant mamas in order to help educate them on breastmilk, breastfeeding, the perks, etc. The handout does an excellent job at showing you just how many “things” are found in your breastmilk (over 200 nutrients).
#1: Stronger Immune System
It is pretty well-known knowledge (and probably the most common reason moms chose to breastfeed) that breastfeeding leads to your baby having a stronger, more developed immune system earlier on in life.
Breastmilk contains antibodies that your advanced immune system has built up over the course of your life based on what you have been exposed to – you get to share that with baby from day 1. As you and your baby are exposed to new “germs” in your environment your body will produce antibodies and share them with your baby during feedings.
Research has shown breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, a lower risk of pneumonia, and overall lower risk of general illness and hospitalization.
#2: Lowers Risk of Common Concerns
Breastfed babies, in general, have a lower risk for a wide variety of common concerns parents have when it comes to their baby/child’s health. Here is a snippet of just some of the concerns I thought were most important. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of:
- obesity in childhood
- diabetes in childhood
#3: Easily Digestible
Breastmilk is the easiest thing for your baby to digest. Although the formula experts have come a long way in developing a formula to be as easily digestible as breastmilk, it is still not the same.
Your breastmilk is made specifically for your baby’s tummy and therefore your baby has less gas, constipation, and diarrhea.
#4: Bonding and Development
Another really common reason moms chose to breastfeed is because it allows you to form a strong bond and connection with your baby early on. Breastfeeding with skin-to-skin contact in the early weeks only helps to strengthen this bond.
Babies who were breastfed also show to have reduced social and behavioral problems later in childhood and adulthood. They also have increased brain development and a higher IQ.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
We often hear about allll the amazing benefits breastfeeding offers to your little one, but the benefits breastfeeding provides to moms are often overlooked. I love that breastfeeding is not only best for your baby, but also for YOU. So here are some of the perks of breastfeeding for mom.
#5: Easier Postpartum Experience
There are many ways breastfeeding can make your postpartum experience/journey a bit easier.
Breastfeeding causes your uterus to contract which helps with a couple of things postpartum. Although this may seem uncomfortable the first few days after birth, the contractions ensure you stay away from severe bleeding and help your uterus to return to its normal size.
Oxytocin and prolactin are hormones that are released while you nurse your baby. These hormones are known to reduce stress and promote a happy mood/behavior. Therefore breastfeeding is thought to reduce your risk of postpartum depression.
Breastfeeding also burns 300-500 calories per day, so it makes it easier to lose that postpartum baby weight. It also gives you a jump start burning calories since you can’t work out until your 6-week postpartum mark.
#6: Lowers Risk for Illnesses and Diseases
Not only does breastfeeding lower your baby’s risk for certain illnesses and diseases but it also does for moms too. Moms who breastfeed have a lower risk of:
- cancer – breast, ovarian, and uterine
- osteoporosis later in life – breastfeeding leads to stronger bones
#7: Economic Benefits
When you decide to breastfeed you save money on not having to buy formula, bottles, and nipples, etc. Breastfeeding saves parents more than $1,000 in the first year.
Parents with breastfed babies also tend to miss fewer days of work. Breastfed babies are not sick as often as formula-fed babies. When your baby is sick then one parent usually must stay home to look after the baby.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Now you know about many of the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby. You can find more information on breastfeeding and its benefits on the NIH website.
Check out my post where I answer the 3 most common questions asked by first time breastfeeding moms.