15 Amazing Benefits of Breastfeeding
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Note: In this article, many of the hyperlinks will take you to articles that support my research about breastfeeding. Happy reading!
Making Breastfeeding a Reality
Before the birth of my son, it was always my desire to exclusively breastfeed my baby. It never really occurred to me to do it any other way. As it turns out, the more I read and researched, the more pleased I became about this decision. If you have read about my breastfeeding journey with my son, you know that in the beginning I wasn’t able to make exclusive breastfeeding a reality. However, before my son was three months old, he was exclusively breastfeeding. Praise the Lord!
And despite the fact that for our family in those first three months, breastfeeding was NOT a cheaper than if we had chosen a formula path, my husband, (who is very frugally minded), was still on board with the decision because of all the amazing benefits breastfeeding had to offer both our child and me as well. So…
Some may ask “Why go through all this trouble just to breastfeed when there are other options for feeding a baby in today’s society?”
Here are 15 Amazing Reasons Why I Breastfeed My Baby:
Benefits for the Baby:
1. Colostrum. The first “milk” a new mother produces is a thick, yellowish, almost clear fluid, called Colostrum. Colostrum is also referred to as “liquid gold”. Why? Colostrum is nutrient-packed and contains everything your baby needs in those first few days of life. Colostrum acts similarly to a vaccine in that it works to ward off infections and viruses that your baby may be exposed to. It also helps to prepare your baby’s tummy for the milk that will come in 3-5 days later.
2. Antibodies and Immune Defense. When a baby breastfeeds, that baby not only receives the antibodies his mother has been exposed to over her lifetime, but, due to the adaptive capability of the milk, also receives antibodies for illnesses that he is exposed to. As soon as a baby has been exposed to something, the act of nursing signals an immune response in the mother that produces the right antibodies the baby needs to ward off the illness. How incredible is that!
3. Superior Nutrition. As a baby grows and changes, so does the mother’s milk based on what the baby needs. The combination of vitamins, protein, and fat makes it a superior nutrition. A baby’s growth spurts, where the baby feeds more often, aid in increasing the mother’s milk supply. Breast milk is also said to contain live organisms, which formula cannot duplicate.
4. Pleasant Poop. Yes, you read that correctly. Exclusively breastfed poop is completely water soluble (which is great for cloth diapering or blowouts) and truly doesn’t have an unpleasant odor. Take it from this Mama who used formula as well, formula poop smells awful! Then there’s the fact that breastfed babies may actually poop less often. Due to the nutrient rich content of breast milk, there’s less “waste” as the baby’s body is better able to absorb it as opposed to formula.
5. Better for Reflux. Continuing on the subject of digestion, breastmilk is easier on a baby’s tummy than formula. Babies stomachs are incredibly immature, and those who breastfeed are less likely to have issues with reflux.
6. Developmental Benefits. There are incredible developmental benefits for a breastfeeding baby as well.
- Physical development: the act of suckling actually helps to properly form a baby’s mouth and jaw development, which will aid them later in life when they begin eating and speaking. Bottle fed babies are not required to utilize these muscles the same way.
- Mental development: According to WebMD, “Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies.” I’ll take that as a bonus!
- Emotional development: breastfed babies are less likely to deal with anxiety and depression when compared to babies who didn’t breastfeed.
7. Easy On-the-Go! There is considerably less preparation when it comes to feeding a breastfed baby, as opposed to feeding with a bottle. You already have your baby’s food wherever you go, and it’s already in the perfect amount and the perfect temperature. I remember back in the formula days, trying to keep all the bottles washes and ready and measuring out formula and water. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to do, but definitely takes more prep time when you’re needing to leave the house.
8. Special Bond. I believe all babies bond with their mothers, no matter how they are fed. However, there is something to be said for those special moments of closeness, eye contact, and skin to skin comfort and security the baby feels. Not to mention the hilarious things your baby does while nursing as he gets older.
9. Lower Risks Later in Life. Babies who breastfeed are less likely later in life to develop diabetes or struggle with obesity. “It also lowers their risk of having asthma or allergies.”
Benefits for the Mother:
10. Faster Post Partum Healing. Once a baby is born, the act of breastfeeding helps the uterus contract back to a normal size, which promotes faster post partum healing.
11. Decreased Risk for a Lifetime. Studies show that breastfeeding significantly decreases the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
12. Two words: No Period! Who didn’t love being pregnant if only for that one reason? Breastfeeding delays ovulation, and thus menstruation as well. Some couples even use it as a natural birth control method, (though few care providers will recommend it as a sole method).
13. Help Losing Weight. Breastfeeding can help in post partum weight loss efforts as it can burn 400-500 calories a day!
14. Decreased Risk of PP Depression. Breastfeeding releases “feel-good” hormones, which can aid in bonding with your baby. Breastfeeding mothers are also 50% less likely to deal with post partum depression than those who do not.
15. Cheap. Although this wasn’t the case for us at first, generally speaking, there is a cost efficiency for the majority families who are able and choose to go the breastfeeding route.
“So how long should I breastfeed my baby?”
We’ll address this question more fully in another post, but there are definite benefits to breastfeeding your child past the first year of his life. The World Health Organization (WHO) actually recommends that a child be fed breast milk for at least the first 2 years. WHO also encourages mothers who may be struggling with breastfeeding to seek out expert support so that they can learn to successfully breastfeed.
So there you have it! 15 AMAZING reasons to breastfeed your baby!
The truth is that God designed mothers to be able to nourish their children, and despite man’s best effort, no supplement can come close to God’s design.
“From the God of your father who helps you,
And by the Almighty who blesses you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.” Genesis 49:25