23 Jun Beneficial Breastmilk: The Perks of Breastfeeding
Despite the fact that the decision to breastfeed is a personal one, many people will have an opinion about it. Learn about the benefits of breastmilk to make an informed decision.
Making the choice to breastfeed is a personal decision. Despite this fact, it’s also a decision that’s likely to draw strong opinions from friends and family alike. There are many medical authorities and pro-breast activists that strongly recommend breastfeeding, but because you and your baby are unique, the choice is ultimately your own.
Here’s an overview of the benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk, so that your decision can be an informed one:
Benefits of breastmilk for your baby
- The ideal nutrition for babies, breast milk is an almost perfect mix of vitamins, proteins and fat – it contains all the ingredients your baby needs for growth.
- Breast milk, especially the colostrum that’s produced in the first few days after birth, contains the antibodies your baby needs to fight off viruses and bacteria.
- Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of developing asthma or allergies later in life.
- Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and tummy upsets – which means fewer trips to the doctor and less chance of hospitalisation.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (cot death) by about 50 percent.
- Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than grow into overweight children.
- The physical act of feeding embodies physical closeness with skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact helping you and your baby to bond while creating a feeling of security for your baby.
- Formula isn’t able to change its make-up, but your breast milk can adapt to meet your baby’s changing needs as he or she grows, providing the right amount of nutrition at exactly the right time.
- Research has shown that babies who are breastfed have a better antibody response to vaccines than formula-fed babies, helping your baby to recover faster.
Benefits of breastfeeding for you
- It’s a fact, breastfeeding burns a lot of calories! Breast milk contains up to 20 calories per ounce, so if you feed your baby 20 ounces a day, that’s 400 calories burned – and you don’t even have to get out of bed to use those calories!
- Breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps your uterus contract, which helps your uterus return to its normal size more quickly after birth—at about six weeks postpartum, compared with 10 weeks if you weren’t breastfeeding.
- It frees you from the worries and expenses of buying and measuring formula, sterilising nipples, and warming bottles, saving both time and money.
- It’s convenient and much easier than prepping formula bottles to take along with you on an outing. You’re free to simply pull up your shirt and nurse, as breast milk is available on-demand and always at the right temperature.
- It’s a great way to get to know your baby, as you need to rely on your own instincts and your baby’s visual cues and behaviour to know when he is full – unlike with a bottle.
- It’s rewarding, and it helps new moms build better friendships with other moms. Whether it’s talking about parenting challenges, nighttime feeds or milk engorgement, moms bond through sharing these intimate details, building positive postpartum relationships.
- Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis after menopause, because lactating women absorb calcium more efficiently which has a positive effect on bone density.
- Breastfeeding is not as simple as it looks in books or in the movies, so if you can’t get it right on your own – ask for help!
- You don’t have to defend your choices when it comes to breast vs bottle, to anyone other than yourself, so don’t worry about what other people say.
- Your body was designed for this, but be patient with yourself as your body adjusts to produce enough milk for your baby.
- It’s essential to look after yourself while you’re breastfeeding – make sure you get enough liquids and nutrients to ensure that your body isn’t depleted of vitamins and minerals in the process of feeding your new baby.