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The Benefits Of Breastfeeding

What are the benefits of breastfeeding? Any doctor will tell a new mom that breastfeeding their baby is best. The more scientists study this topic, the more benefits to breastfeeding become apparent. Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice not only for the baby, but for the mother, the environment, even for the budget. Let’s look at some of the main reasons why breastfeeding remains the best choice.

Strengthened Immunity

Breastfeeding strengthens your baby’s immune system. Breast milk is full of antibodies that will help babies fight off common illnesses. Breast milk is especially important in the first six months of the baby’s life because your baby cannot produce his own antibodies until he is older than six months.

Breast milk is also specifically formulated to be the exact nutrition that a human baby needs to thrive.

benefits of breastfeeding

 

Bonding Time

Another one of the benefits of breastfeeding is built in time to hold your baby close and bond with her. The closeness of the nursing relationship is important for helping the baby to get much needed cuddle time and skin to skin contact with you. Close physical contact is important to help your baby form a deep attachment to you. The extra cuddle time is also important for the baby’s social development. the benefits of breastfeeding

 

Breastfeeding Benefits You Too, Mom

The benefits of breastfeeding include you, the mother on many levels as well. Breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and also osteoporosis. There is also evidence that breastfeeding assists some women in weight loss, as the process of making milk burns extra calories, between 300 and 500 each day! (This has never been the case for me, I have to work hard for each pound I lose ;) ).

Breastfeeding has been proven to help control blood sugar levels in diabetics. Mothers with type I diabetes have noticed that they need less insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

When a mother breastfeeds her baby the hormone prolactin is released into her system. Prolactin puts the mother into a calm state of mind and relaxes the rest of the body as well.

 

Save Time

The benefits of breastfeeding include saving the mother countless hours from not having to sterilize bottles, and mix and heat formula. When a baby is screaming from hunger, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to get the formula to the proper temperature. The closeness of breastfeeding also assists the mother in forming a stronger bond to her baby. Breast feeding forces the mother to sit down and catch a breath several times a day.

 

Save Money, Less Waste

The benefits of breastfeeding also extend to your pocketbook and the environment. Think of all the formula cans and bottle liners that will not end up in a landfill thanks to breastfeeding. Now think about the cost of formula. It is estimated that the cost of formula in the first year will cost between $1,000 and $2300. That is a huge cost considering that breast milk is free.

 

Breastfeeding Makes Comforting Your Baby Easy

Breastfeeding is a great way to comfort your baby and is fool-proof. Every time one of my babies weaned the first regret I would have is the loss of comfort for the baby. Many mothers nurse their babies during routine vaccinations and the child is instantly comforted. In fact, if you nurse your baby while the vaccination is being given, some babies don’t cry at all. benefits of breastfeeding

 

Lowered Risk Of Obesity

When studying the benefits of breastfeeding, let’s not forget new information that showing us that breastfeeding helps to prevent childhood and adult obesity in children. Breastfed babies have a lower level of fat when they are a year old than their formula fed friends. Gregory Soukup lays out the information in an issue of Leaven,

“At five to six years of age, children who were never breastfed had obesity rates of 4.5 percent compared to obesity rates of 0.8 percent for children who were breastfed for more than 12 months (von Kries et al. 1999). When children reached nine to 12 years of age, those who were breastfed for the first six months of their lives had overweight rates that were 22 percent lower than infants who were not breastfed. Children and early adolescents who were breastfed for longer than six months had even lower rates of overweight and obesity (Gillman et al. 2001). At 18 years old, young adults who were exclusively breastfed for three months or longer were significantly leaner and had less body fat (Tulldahl et al. 1999). Breastfed infants learn to control the amount of human milk and calories they consume better than bottle-fed infants, who are often forced to continue feeding and finish a bottle after they are satisfied. Energy-dense infant formulas may stimulate the endocrine system to secrete more insulin and growth factor than human milk does, which leads to increased rates of body fat in formula-fed babies (Hediger et al. 2001).”

The benefits of breastfeeding, other noteworthy examples include:

-smaller risk of SIDS
-lower risk of dying before the first birthday
-protection from gastrointestinal disease
-less ear infections (none of my six children have had an ear infection)
-protection from other infections including: pneumonia and meningitis, diarrhea and infant botulism
-less asthma, eczema, and allergies
-protection from type I diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and childhood cancers
(Please note: breastfeeding does not completely eliminate any of these conditions, but studies have proven breast fed infants are *less likely* to contract these illnesses)

The benefits of breastfeeding listed here represent only a small segment of the total benefit. Health of the baby, and health of the mother can really only be measured in retrospect. So in that regard, breastfeeding should be considered a preventative health measure. It is important to weigh the costs and benefits when deciding to choose breastfeeding or formula. Getting the correct information should help make this decision easier.

References:

1. Dermer, M.D.,IBCLC, Alicia. “LLLI | A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding’s Benefits to Mothers.” Editorial. New Beginnings July 2001: 124-27. LLLI | Home. LLLI. Web. 08 Aug. 2011. .

2. Soukup, Sr., Gregory J. “LLLI | Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Breastfeeding Can Help.” Editorial. LEAVEN Jan.-Feb. 2007: 2-4. LLLI | Home. Web. 08 Aug. 2011. .

3. “Benefits Of Breastfeeding.” California Department Of Public Health. Web. .

 

For my full, in depth review of the best breast pump, click here.

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