The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding allows a new mother to feed her baby directly from her own breasts. Ideally, this happens through nursing on the breast, but in some cases this may not be possible. Breast milk can then be expressed (pumped) from the breast and fed to the infant in a bottle. Breastfeeding provides an infant with essential vitamins, protein, and fat, as well as antibodies that help the immune system develop and fight off bacteria and viruses.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that, if physically able, women should breastfeed exclusively (this means no formula, juice, or water) the first 6 months of life.
So, what are the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby and the mother? Since we’re all about women and babies at Women’s Health Medical Group, let’s get into that in August’s toasty blog.
Breastfeeding benefits for the baby
Breast milk is ideal nutrition for infants, providing the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat. And it’s provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies, and it lowers the baby’s risk of having asthma and allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They require fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
Some studies have linked higher IQ scores in later childhood with breastfeeding in infancy. The physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help the baby bond with the mom and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow, rather than become overweight children. The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome.
Benefits for the mother
For mom, breastfeeding is a good thing, as well. Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help a new mother lose her pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Some research also shows it may lower a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis.
Beyond the bonding, breastfeeding also simplifies life for a busy new mom. It eliminates the need to buy and measure formula, to sterilize nipples, to warm bottles, and it saves time and money.
If you have any questions about pregnancy or breastfeeding, give us a call at Women’s Health Medical Group, (817) 346-5336.