It’s no secret that breastfeeding offers many benefits for your baby, including nutrients, immunity, and attachment. But have you heard about all the breastfeeding benefits for Mom?
It turns out, the nursing relationship is mutually beneficial for mother and child for not only physical health, but emotional well-being and bonding as well.
Here are 14 of the breastfeeding benefits for mom and baby.
Benefit for Baby: Physical and Emotional Connection
Skin-to-skin contact is essential for an infant’s development, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In fact, a study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that breastfeeding leads to improved maternal-infant bonding.
A baby who does not immediately bond with another individual is at risk for significant stress that can lead to both physical and emotional challenges throughout life. Breastfeeding helps to reduce this risk and gives mom and baby a chance to connect right away.
Benefit for Mom: Faster Recovery from Childbirth
Even though the release of good hormones is often reward enough for breastfeeding, mothers also benefit physically each time an infant feeds.
Statistics show that many moms who breastfeed recover faster and more easily from childbirth as the hormone oxytocin releases. As a result, the release of this hormone can help to minimize postpartum bleeding and help return your uterus to its normal size.
In fact, research suggests that mothers who breastfeed and cuddle their infants within 30 minutes of childbirth can help to reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
Got childbirth questions? I’ve got answers. Read All Your Not-So Stupid Birth Questions: Answered!
Benefit for Baby: Protection Against Potential Illnesses
One of the primary benefits of breastfeeding for your baby is the potential to ward off infections, illnesses and diseases. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports that infants are at less risk for developing respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and type 1 and type 2 diabetes if they are breastfed.
It is well worth all your effort to know that nursing is providing your little one with daily nourishment as well as protecting him or her from future infections.
Benefit for Mom: Natural Form of Contraception
If you choose to exclusively breastfeed your baby, the process delays your menstrual period from returning after birth. Since you are not ovulating, breastfeeding your child serves as a natural form of contraception, which extends the time between pregnancies.
However, use this method with caution! The effect only applies if your child is less than six months, your period has not returned and you are breastfeeding both day and night. If you supplement with formula or start weaning, your fertility is likely to return.
Benefit for Baby: Improved Maturation
While all babies benefit from the nutrition and bonding that results from breastfeeding, pre-term babies especially reap the benefits of skin-to-skin contact with mom.
The American Academy of Pediatrics found that skin-to-skin contact from breastfeeding can improve neurobehavioral maturation, autonomic maturation and gastrointestinal adaption.
In addition, pre-term infants who are breast fed have more restful sleep patterns and cry less, which ultimately constitutes better growth.
Once you’re aware of the benefits, make sure you have the knowledge to achieve your breastfeeding goals.
I always recommend a breastfeeding class for expectant moms who have their hearts set on breastfeeding. It makes a world of difference to go in prepared for any challenges you might encounter. Have the solutions already ready so you don’t need to search for answers when you’re stressed and exhausted with a newborn!
The best online breastfeeding class I’ve found out there is this one by Milkology. It is extremely thorough and the video format makes it feel like you’re really taking a class, but on your own schedule and at your convenience.
Benefit for Mom: Release of Hormones that Promote Love and Nurturing
For mom, the closeness of connecting with baby is the most rewarding part of breastfeeding, but there is scientific evidence from the AAP that explains why you feel good during nursing sessions.
These feelings are often attributed to the release of hormones that are released when feeding your baby. For instance, prolactin is released while breastfeeding, which gives mothers a nurturing sensation. It is also known to help moms to relax and improve focus.
In addition, oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, which promotes a sense of attachment and love.
Benefit for Baby: Reduced Pain
Infants who are born with medical conditions benefit significantly from breastfeeding, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The agency’s research found that skin-to-skin contact from breastfeeding can neutralize the newborn’s body temperature and help prevent hypothermia. In addition, when a child is held by a parent during breastfeeding, the act can help reduce pain, decrease crying, offer cardiorespiratory stability and stabilize blood glucose concentrations.
Not only are you offering your child comfort physically, you are also providing nutrition and emotional support each time you breastfeed and cuddle with your infant.
Benefit for Mom: Cost-Effective Feeding Method
Like everything related to babies, feeding your infant can get expensive. Baby formula costs about $15 per can, which may only last 3-4 days if your baby is a good eater. If your baby has allergies or difficulties digesting formula, special hypoallergenic formula can cost double that.
Depending on the formula you choose and how much your baby eats, a year of formula feeding will cost around $2,000. With breastfeeding, you are providing all your baby’s food- free of charge!
Benefit for Baby: Reduces the Risk of Childhood Obesity
Choosing to breastfeed your child as an infant can have significant effects on his or her development later in life. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics found that breastfeeding helps to reduce the risk of childhood obesity, a condition that affects three in 10 kids according to a 2016 study.
The balanced diet your infant receives from breastfeeding not only gives him or her a healthy boost early on in life, it also sets the tone for a healthy lifestyle in the future.
Benefit for Mom: Reduced Risk of Illnesses
As a mother, your primary goal is to provide nourishment for your children through breastfeeding, but you are also safeguarding your own future too. Studies released by the American Academy of Pediatrics have revealed that women who breastfeed have lower rates of ovarian and breast cancer later in life.
Women who breastfeed also have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes. As a result, your blood pressure and cholesterol are often lower during and after breastfeeding.
While breastfeeding does not guarantee a healthy future for mom, nursing can help you to reduce your risks for prominent illnesses and diseases.
Benefit for Baby: Fewer Ear Infections
It’s common for babies and toddlers to experience painful ear infections. Breastfeeding helps to ward off this physical condition. The U.S. Office on Women’s Health reports that infants who are breastfeed are less likely to contract as many ear infections as children who are not breastfed.
While your child is likely to suffer from common colds or illnesses throughout his or her life, reducing the risk of ear pain is a definite benefit for both your child’s and your well-being.
Benefit for Mom: More Convenience and Less Rush
When an infant is ready to eat, he or she often gets fussy while parents rush to prepare bottles and formula. Breastfeeding eliminates this process and allows you to put your baby to your breast immediately.
The convenience also extends to travel or trips to the store. When your child is hungry, you can simply feed him or her while out and about when choosing to breastfeed.
Concerned about privacy? Many stores and businesses provide a private area for mothers to breastfeed. You can also invest in shawls or breastfeeding blankets to increase your privacy when feeding in public. You can even make your own nursing cover if you have basic sewing skills, by following this DIY breastfeeding cover tutorial.
The act is natural, and thankfully, much more accepted in private venues because individuals acknowledge the importance of breastfeeding.
Benefit for Baby: Increased Antibodies and Nutrients
Breastfeeding is the ultimate way to fuel your child’s body with what is often dubbed as liquid gold.
During pregnancy, mothers make colostrum, which is a thick milk your infant receive during the first few feedings. Colostrum is rich in antibodies and nutrients, which can ultimately ward off infections that affect newborns.
In addition, the U.S. Office on Women’s Health reports that colostrum can aid a newborn’s digestive system, even though he or she only receives a tiny amount of colostrum with each feeding.
As your baby grows, your milk matures, offering just the right amount of protein, sugar, water and fat your child needs. Breastmilk is constantly changing to provide exactly what your child needs at that particular stage of development.
Benefit for Mom: Sense of Fulfillment as a Mother
One of the most beneficial reasons mothers choose to breastfeed is the accomplishment of singlehandedly giving your baby all the nutrients he or she needs directly from your own body.
Breastfeeding ultimately will provide you with a sense of pride. Your love for your child often surmounts when you are holding him or her in your arms and creating an emotional and physical connection with each feeding.
It is well known that breastfeeding is a commitment and it can be difficult, but the feeling of nourishing your baby from your own body is an amazingly rewarding experience.
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American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Breastfeeding/Pages/Benefits-of-Breastfeeding.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Benefits-of-Breastfeeding-for-Mom.aspx
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/breastfeeding/conditioninfo/benefits
U.S. Office on Women’s Health