Advantages of Breastfeeding

The advantages of breastfeeding are often talked about with your OB/GYN, however I know a lot of what we talked about went right out the window by the time my baby was born. Breast milk is considered the perfect food or the “gold standard” for feeding your baby. The benefits for both mom and baby are tremendous and are provided clearly below.

Benefits for Baby:

  • Breast milk contains antibodies that are transferred from the mother to the baby
  • Leads to fewer ear and gastrointestinal infections
  • Leads to fewer respiratory illnesses during the first year of the baby’s life
  • Strong evidence that that it can help prevent infections (i.e. bacterial meningitis, colitis)
  • Breast milk may help protect your baby against immune system disorders (i.e. diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and crohn’s disease)
  • Reduces risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), constipation, Urinary tract infections, childhood leukemia, iron-deficiency anemia, childhood obesity
  • Premature infants fed breast milk have faster brainstem maturation
  • Breastfeeding is associated with higher scores for cognitive development in school age children

Benefits for Mom:

  • Promotes close mother-child contact
  • Delays the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles
  • Promotes weight loss helping the body to burn around an extra 500 calories per day
  • Protection against premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Bone remineralization to levels exceeding those present before lactation (decreases risk of osteoporosis)
  • More optimal blood glucose profiles in women with gestational diabetes

Knowing the advantages of breastfeeding, are you still up in the air? Don’t feel bad or think you are a “bad mom”, some women did not grow up exposed to breastfeeding. I find a common denominator between the women’s choice and what her mother experienced. If your mom had good experiences, it is more likely that you’ll want to give it a try. If you’ve never been exposed to the idea, all I ask is that you read up on the benefits to make an educated decision.

If you are flat out scared to death about breastfeeding, I recommend you look into a class or two prior to delivery. You will be able to ask for a lactation consultant at the hospital, they can be extremely helpful in helping the baby latch on and finding different feeding positions. Lactation consultants are also supportive of your cause and will encourage you not give up at the first sign of difficulty. Also feel free to Just Ask if you are at home and stressing out. Support is important, take advantage of your resources!

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