The decision to breastfeed is a personal choice for a mother and her baby, however, research shows many benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby. Breast milk is nutritious, rich in vitamins, and saves time and money. In support of National Breastfeeding Week, below are some of the reasons you may want to consider breastfeeding your baby.
Benefits to babies who breastfeed:
- Breast milk provides the ideal amount of nutrients and vitamins for babies, and it’s provided in a more digestible form than formula.
- Breast milk provides important antibodies to fight off viruses and bacteria.
- The colostrum that is found in breast milk within the first few days of giving birth is rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect the baby from infections, as well as helps the baby’s digestive system function and grow.
- Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma or allergies, and research shows that they have a lower risk of developing ear infections, respiratory illnesses, eczema, diarrhea and vomiting. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding can also help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and it has been thought to lower the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers as a child.
Benefits to mothers who breastfeed:
- Breastfeeding can help mothers lose their pregnancy weight faster since breastfeeding burns extra calories.
- Breastfeeding helps the mother and baby bond due to skin to skin contact, the closeness of the mother’s body to the baby, and close eye contact to each other. This closeness is beneficial to both the baby and the mother.
- Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin which helps the mother’s uterus return to normal size and reduce bleeding after giving birth. It can also help calm the mother emotionally.
- Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis as well as breast and ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding saves time and money since there is no cost involved, nor time spent washing and sterilizing bottles and nipples.
Breastfeeding is a personal choice that a mother should make without being influenced by friends or family. There are many benefits, but there may also be some challenges, such as sore nipples, the baby not latching on, or not producing enough milk. Seek counsel from your health care provider, family members, or other mothers if these challenges arise. If breastfeeding is the right choice for you, it can help give your baby their best and healthiest start in life.