Benefits of breastfeeding
Benefits for baby
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding explains that “there is almost nothing you can do for your child in his whole life that will affect him both emotionally and physically as profoundly as breastfeeding.” Human milk provides the specific nutrients that babies need to grow, both in size and maturity. Your milk is made to order for your baby. Research points to the significant value to infants, mothers, families and the environment from breastfeeding
Breastfed babies have a decreased likelihood for allergies and dental caries. They also benefit from appropriate jaw, teeth and speech development as well as overall facial development.
Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against many illnesses and conditions, including:
- Painful ear infections
- Upper and lower respiratory ailments
- Colds, viruses, staph, strep and e coli infections
- Intestinal disorders
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain childhood cancers
In your breastmilk are antibodies which will fight infections. These are passed through your milk to your baby.
Nursing also allows your baby to give germs to you so that your immune system can respond and can synthesize antibodies to help them! When a baby feeds and puts his hands and fingers by your face he isnt just saying hi. He is getting these germs to you so that your body will start to manufacture antibodies for that particular germ. Human milk also contains a host of other immune molecules that also help protect your baby from germs. It’s an awesome system!
Research shows your child’s immune system will not be fully mature for many years. While it is developing, he will be protected by being breastfed. His own immune system also develops more rapidly than does baby who is fed formula.
Does this mean breastfed babies never get sick? No, they can and do. However, the illness is generally less severe and less lengthy than if the baby were not receiving his mother’s milk. ( taken from Importance of Breastfeeding | La Leche League International (llli.org))
Benefits for Mother
There are significantly lower rates of diabetes and heart disease in older women who have breastfed for at least 12 months .
Breastfeeding protects against breast and ovarian cancer.
They find it easier to return to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Exclusive breastfeeding actually turns off the stress response . It’s one way that breastfeeding protects against cardiovascular disease. In addition, exclusive breastfeeding protects maternal mental health because it lowers the inflammatory response, and studies have consistently shown that mothers exclusively breastfeeding their babies are at lower risk of suffering depression.
That does not mean that a mother who is exclusively breastfeeding her baby won’t get depressed. It means that her risk is lower, and if she does get depressed, breastfeeding will help her cope.
Exclusive breastfeeding increases both the quality and quantity of mothers’ sleep. Moreover, if mothers sleep well, they are better able to cope with the demands of new motherhood, so even if they do get depressed, they are likely to recover more quickly.
Finally, breastfeeding increases mothers’ sense of wellbeing. When breastfeeding is going well, oxytocin is upregulated. That is the general feel-good hormone. It makes us want to be around other people and do things for them. It helps us cope with some of the not-too-fun tasks of motherhood.