After the joy of a pregnancy confirmation, it comes the time to get ready for the baby. One of the main concerns of first-time moms is the baby’s future diet. Although breastfeeding seems the most logical solution, many women decide to go for formula instead. Yet, here are 21 benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mom that should convince you that your milk is the best baby food.
1. Breast Milk Is A Superfood
Breast milk is not only the most economical and ecological food for newborn but it’s actually a superfood. Breastfeeding is essential for the health of the baby, providing just the right nutrients your baby needs.
In fact, your milk adjusts its formula to meet the needs of your little one. If you’re having twins, the milk will adjust differently for each child.
The breast milk formula for girls is also different from the formula your body produces if you have a boy. Not to mention that your milk is full of antibodies and vitamins.
Due to these amazing properties, the World Health Organization recommends to exclusively breastfeed your child for the first six months. From this age onwards, pass to complementary breastfeeding. At this stage, you could even consider baby-led weaning instead of the traditional weaning process.
2. Breastfeeding Boosts Baby’s Immune System
Breast milk allows the child to build a strong intestinal bacterial flora and develop a healthy immune system that will provide essential defense against diseases for the whole life. According to many studies, babies who are exclusively breastfed in the first six months are less prone to develop allergies and asthma, dermatitis, and diabetes mellitus.
Breastfed babies also have a lower risk of SIDS and a 53% lower risk of developing the celiac disease.
3. Breast Milk Can Save Your Preemie’s Life
Prematurely born children may easily develop necrotizing enterocolitis, a life-threatening disease that can lead to intestinal perforation and death. But breast milk can prevent the disease or alleviate its symptoms, saving your baby’s life.
Breastfeeding a preemie is often impossible, but you can pump the milk or benefit from the services of a milk bank if yours is insufficient.
This healthy nectar contains over 700 types of bacteria that help the newborn digest while strengthening his immune system.
4. Breastfed Babies Grow Smarter
A recent study performed by the University of Brazil showed that breastfed babies are often smarter than formula-fed babies. Breastfed babies usually reach a higher level of education and achieve more prestigious working positions.
This happens because breast milk has a clear impact on the baby’s brain, strengthening neural connections and increasing the IQ.
Extended breastfeeding can even increase the benefits, therefore you should really consider this practice.
5. Breastfeeding Connects Baby With Mom
Breastfeeding is the only action that creates a true bond between you and the newborn. It is an intimate moment that helps you connect with your baby on all levels.
This bond will usually stay strong throughout the years and again, you can strengthen it even more by practicing extended breastfeeding.
6. Better Response To Vaccines
Like mentioned above, breast milk boosts your baby’s immune system and this translates into a better response to vaccines.
7. Breastfeeding Promotes Oral Development
Breastfeeding helps your baby develop his oral cavity in many ways. To begin with, sucking milk from a breast is hard. It requires effort and your baby will have to use the jaws and tongue to get the goodness out.
Latching also promotes a healthy development of the palate. Facial muscles get a proper training during mealtime, which is another advantage.
On the contrary, eating out from a bottle is easy and requires no effort at all, inhibiting oral development.
8. Breastfeeding Promotes Postpartum Healing
Breastfeeding doesn’t only do good to your baby, is good for you too. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of oxytocin, the same hormone that promotes uterine contraction during labor. By promoting contraction, it helps your uterus get back to its normal size, helping you heal faster.
In fact, many moms experience painful contractions while breastfeeding during the first days after childbirth. The phenomenon is normal and you’ll just have to patiently wait for the contractions to cease.
9. Breastfeeding Lowers The Risk Of Cancer
It is scientifically proven that women who have breastfed their babies have a lower risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. A longer lactation reduces the risks even more; also, the more children you breastfeed, the lower the risk.
10. Breastfeeding Strengthens Your Bones
It is also scientifically proven that women who have breastfed have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis after menopause. That’s because your body absorbs more calcium during breastfeeding, making your bones denser than they were before the pregnancy.
11. Enviable Silhouette
A concern of many new moms is getting back in shape after childbirth. There are many diets to follow and training programs to try, but the easiest way to lose weight is by breastfeeding your child.
Exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months allows the mother to burn up to 700 more calories a day. If you follow a balanced diet, you can easily get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. At the same time, your breast size will increase by one or two sizes. What else could you wish for?
12. Freedom Of Movement
When you breastfeed, you’re the only source of nourishment for your child. This means the food is always available, no matter where you are. No more carrying bottles of formula. No more thinking where to heat the milk or sterilize the containers.
If the baby’s hungry, all you need is a quiet place and maybe a breastfeeding cover. Moreover, your baby will always get perfectly sterile milk at the right temperature.
13. Wallet-Friendly Solution
Baby formula is expensive and rarely provides all necessary nutrients. Breast milk is free and provides everything the baby needs. Not only the food is better but it allows you to save money for toys, baby clothes, or diapers.
Or, you could just save the formula money into a savings account for your little one.
14. Breastfeeding Boosts Your Self-Esteem
Anyone can feed your baby with formula. But only you can provide him with the best baby food out there. That’s why breastfeeding is gratifying. You’ll feel good about yourself and will love to brag about it in front of family and friends.
15. Breastfeeding Fights Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a real thing but breast-feeders have a lower chance of developing it. This may be connected to the increased self-esteem but also to the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters responsible for the induction of sentiments of happiness and euphoria.
Regardless of the mechanism, as long as breastfeeding promotes your mental health it’s definitely the wisest thing to do.
16. You May Skip Menstruations
Okay, ladies. Let’s face it. Nobody likes menstruations. And breastfeeding can give you a well-deserved break from them. Breastfeeding causes the release of prolactin, a hormone that prevents ovulation. In general terms, you can get up to six months of menstrual vacation.
17. Natural Birth Control
This benefit of breastfeeding is linked to the one above. Prolactin prevents ovulation. No ovulation means no pregnancy. In other words, you might not need condoms, oral contraceptives or alternative forms of birth control measures for a few months after birth.
Yet, since every woman is different, you might want to speak to your practitioner before deciding on what’s best for you.
18. Breastfeeding Is Environmentally Friendly
This is a benefit for you, for your baby, and for the whole world. Your breast milk is produced naturally and generates no waste. No formula cans to throw after use. No bottles to recycle, no chemical products used to wash or sterilize containers, no energy wasted either to produce or to prepare the food.
Breastfeeding also means less waste of water, as your body will take care of producing the milk at the right consistency.
19. Breastfeeding Helps You Make New Friends
Most moms who decide to breastfeed will need counseling immediately after birth. While private counseling is an option, many postpartum doulas and breastfeeding experts organize classes that help you meet other moms.
This is particularly useful as you’ll have the opportunity to connect with people that have the same doubts and questions as you. You’ll become part of a community and will feel supported, which lowers the risk of postpartum depression.
20. Fewer Sick Days From Work
Once again, your baby’s strong immune system steps in. A strong immunity means fewer diseases. And this means fewer sick days off from work.
21. Breastfeeding Is Easy
And lastly, one of my favorite benefits of breastfeeding – it’s easy. You will literally have to raise your shirt, help the baby latch, and sit back and relax while the baby is eating. There is nothing to worry about, such as formula preparation or temperature. You might have to clean your baby’s mouth and your breast after feeding your bundle of joy, but that’s about it.
A more than ideal reason to consider breastfeeding your child.