Breastfeeding has many benefits. Some are obvious. Some are a little more obscure. It shows God’s beautiful design in so many ways! You may know you want to breastfeed, but learning about breastfeeding benefits can help your resolve when you come up against a hurdle. It is also very helpful for dad, your parents, and anyone else who is trying to support you.
The Benefits of What is in Breast Milk
Breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients that a baby needs for healthy growth and development. Humans are not capable of creating an infant formula that even comes close to what is in breast milk. Check out the difference:
Formula is a long term experiment. When it’s discovered something is lacking, it’s added. We are not smart enough to know how to recreate all the components of breast milk in a way our bodies can use. Not even close.
Breast Milk Adapts and Changes
Breast milk is full of living cells! Those cells help fight infection in the baby and in the mother’s breast.
Breastmilk is full of antibodies, good bacteria, and live blood cells that help baby develop a strong immune system. Our gut plays a major role in our immune system, inflammation throughout the body, and development of chronic disease. Breastmilk gets baby on the right start by filling the gut with everything he needs and by protecting against harmful things.
Cortisol & Tryptophan
Breastmilk changes with the time of day. For example, there is more cortisol in breastmilk in the morning and less cortisol in the evening. This is necessary for correct development of the central nervous system. At night, breastmilk is high in the amino acid tryptophan, which helps baby make melatonin. These differences in milk throughout the day coordinate baby’s sleep wake cycle. It helps him to be awake more during the day and sleepier at night. Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin in the mom which makes her able to fall back to sleep quickly after night feedings.
If mom encounters a virus or bacteria, her body will make antibodies specific to those germs to pass through her breast milk to baby. The breast milk antibodies can help even if baby picked up the virus but mom did not. When he latches to the breast, his saliva will tell Mom’s body what to put in the breastmilk to fight those specific germs.
The make up of the breastmilk changes with baby’s age. It is different from the first feeding to the second feeding. Breastmilk has a different composition on day 2 than day 3 and it continues to change throughout the years breastfeeding. Breastmilk changes to adapt to what baby needs most at that age of growth and development.
These changes in breastmilk can encourage a mama who doesn’t have a full supply of milk to keep breastfeeding whatever amount she can. It may also encourage a mom to breastfeed a little longer, to get through flu season for example.
Improved Future Health Outcomes
Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the most beneficial things you can do to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
For baby, breastfeeding decreases their risk of ear infections, asthma, diabetes, obesity, respiratory disease, eczema, leukemia, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. There is a 19% lower risk of U.S. infants dying if they were ever breastfed compared to if they were never breastfed. That is huge! If baby was premature, the risk reduction with breastfeeding is greater.
For mom, breastfeeding decreases her risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. The more years mom spends breastfeeding the greater reduction of breast cancer. There is a place in the world where for cultural reasons they only breastfeed on one breast. Breast cancer only occurs in the breast they don’t breastfeed with. There is also a correlation between moms who stop breastfeeding early and moms who experience depression after delivery.
In general, the longer breastfeeding continues, the more the benefits and risk reductions increase.
Life Style Breastfeeding Benefits
- Increased IQ in breastfed babies. Some of this has to do with the amount of time mom spends holding, looking at, and interacting with baby.
- Breastfeeding promotes bonding through pheromones and the release of hormones with milk letdown. Those pheromones are thought to be able to help with baby blues. So, smell your baby’s head often! The oxytocin released during breastfeeding has many benefits throughout mom’s body.
- Moms who breastfeed get, on average, 30 more minutes of sleep per night.
- Breastfeeding is cheap. Especially if you don’t shop on your phone while breastfeeding. 😉 A small amount of supplies may help but all you NEED are you, your breasts, and your baby.
- It is much easier to leave the house as a breastfeeding mom. There are fewer things to remember (no bottles or formula needed). If you forget something you can probably do without it. Your plans can be flexible because you don’t rely on how much formula you brought. Breastmilk is the right temperature and volume.
- Suckling at the breast helps the uterus contract, which helps mom to bleed less after delivery and fit back into her jeans sooner. Breastfeeding also burns on average 500 calories per day (more than pregnancy). Breastfeeding also takes more energy than your brain (about 25%). So, make sure to be gentle with yourself!
- Breastfeeding is good for the environment and reduces waste.
If 90% of women breastfed, our country would be significantly healthier as whole, saving $13 Billion in health care costs and 911 babies lives!
Did you know breastmilk can treat eye infections, cuts, and skin ailments?
Share these breastfeeding benefits with the people who support you! Dad, grandparents, and friends can help you much more if they understand why you want to breastfeed.