Written by guest contributor, Amy Gougler:
As the daughter of a lactation consultant who breastfed 4 children, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my babies when my time came to be a mother. Initially, I just thought breastfeeding was best because my mom did and I liked the idea of saving money. However, once I became pregnant and did my own research, I learned about all the benefits of breastfeeding, not only for baby, but mom too!
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
Breastfeeding is one of the best things that you can do for your baby. There are so many reasons why breastmilk provides such a healthy start to your child’s life.
Breastmilk itself offers plenty of benefits for your child, so if you’re an exclusively pumping mama, you’re still providing your baby with all that good stuff. Physically breastfeeding your child can also offer even more helpful advantages, as well. Read about all the benefits of breastfeeding below:
1. Breast milk contains important antibodies that baby can’t get anywhere else
Your breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. The enzymes in your breastmilk are so unique to you and your child that scientists have yet to replicate them exactly. They have tried to reproduce these enzymes in formula and they have come close, but it’s still nowhere near as helpful for your baby.
These antibodies and enzymes lower baby’s risk of having asthma and allergies, as well as respiratory illnesses. Antibodies are produced by mom specifically to meet the baby’s needs and they even change as your baby grows.
Therefore, the antibodies that you are passing to a newborn baby may be different than the ones that your 10 month old needs. Also, if you or your baby is starting to get sick, your body will produce specific antibodies through your breastmilk so your baby can fight that illness. How amazing is that?
2. Breastfed babies are less likely to get sick
You could probably infer this from the reason above, but it’s true. Breastfed babies are more protected with antibodies from mom’s milk.
To prevent illness, the saliva in your baby’s mouth triggers specific antibodies to be released into the milk when your baby suckles on the nipple. This protects them from illnesses in their environment. There’s a reason breast milk is called liquid gold!
Related Post: 29 Genius Breastfeeding Tips and Hacks for Busy Moms
3. Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight in babies
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrients for your baby, allowing them to gain weight at an appropriate pace. It’s the perfect amount of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins for your baby’s rapidly growing body.
Breast milk also changes throughout the day! In the morning, you may notice that your milk is thinner and less fatty at first. This is the foremilk that helps hydrate baby first thing in the morning.
As baby continues suckling, the breastmilk changes in color and consistency as the fattier hindmilk is released. Not only do the fats and consistency change, but morning milk has lower levels of serotonin compared to evening milk to help keep baby awake all day and asleep at night!
4. Breast milk is easier for babies to digest.
Breast milk is easy for baby’s stomachs to breakdown because it’s the most natural substance for them to be digesting. Therefore they should face less gastrointestinal stress.
This means less upset stomachs, diarrhea, gas, and constipation than babies who are on formula. Breast milk also causes babies bowel movements to have an almost “sweet” scent to it, as opposed to the stinky poo that you’re bound to face as soon as solids are introduced.
There is nothing like holding your baby close, skin-to-skin, and providing them with the nutrients they need to sustain life. This is a benefit for mom, just as much as it is for baby.
At a young age, babies need to be held close to help them feel secure and that they are in the care of someone who loves them. As your baby begins to realize that their mom is the one providing them with milk, they will form a close bond that can’t be replicated with anyone else.
6. Other Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
There are tons of other benefits of breastfeeding out there. Some with more research than others. The biggest thing to know is that breastfeeding your baby is a beautiful gift with countless benefits.
If you’re able to share this experience with your child, you are giving them so much! I’d love for you to read all about my second breastfeeding journey and the confidence it gave me as a mother. That’s right, there are benefits for mom’s too!
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
Most women choose to breastfeed because of the benefits it provides to their baby. Becoming mothers, we become much more selfless and put our child’s needs first. Luckily, there are tons of benefits for mom when it comes to breastfeeding as well! It’s a win-win!
7. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight
Every woman is different and this isn’t always the case, but in general, breastfeeding can help you start to lose the excess weight from pregnancy. Milk production burns roughly an additional 300-500 calories per day. If you think about it, that’s the equivalent of a pretty intense workout!
Breastfeeding, along with mindful eating and regular activity, can help mom lose the baby weight fast. The mindful eating and regular activity are still important though! Breastfeeding hunger puts pregnancy cravings to shame, so you still have to be aware of what and how much you’re putting into your body.
Related Post: How I Lost All the Post-Baby Weight While Breastfeeding
8. Breastfeeding helps you bond with your baby
As stated above, this experience is for you and your baby alone. No one else can nurse your baby, but you. Breastfeeding is such a special experience that you share, and the cuddles during each session create memories that you’ll never forget. I’ll also mention that skin-to-skin is beneficial for both baby and momma, helping you to release hormones that relieve stress and feel more calm.
9. Breastfeeding shrinks the uterus quicker and decreases postpartum bleeding
When the nipple is stimulated, your body releases oxytocin which causes the uterus to contract. These contractions help to decrease the amount of postpartum bleeding as your body gets back to normal.
The contractions caused by nipple stimulation also help the uterus to shrink back down to size more quickly. This will get your postpartum belly back to it’s pre-pregnancy size.
Related post: Postpartum Recovery Must-Haves
10. Breastfeeding saves time and money
It’s the truth! No money is necessary in the actual act of breastfeeding. You will still need some supplies that will cost you a little bit up front like a breastfeeding pillow, manual or electric pump (most can get free through insurance), breastmilk bags and some other items. But over time, you’re saving a ton of money by not having to buy formula.
Check out some of my breastfeeding and postpartum must haves after my second baby!
As far as time goes, breastfeeding just takes much less. Bottle feeding requires making a bottle, heating it up, and then feeding the baby. When breastfeeding, you can just put your baby directly on the breast until they’re finished. It’s very helpful when you’re out and about and have a crying baby that needs to eat ASAP.
This is a completely different story if you’re pumping and bottle feeding of course. But overall, breastfeeding is much faster.
In a nutshell…
Breastfeeding is awesome. I know that not all women are able to breastfeed, but if you have the opportunity, give it a chance. No matter what, fed is best and we’re all just doing what we can to survive this crazy phase of motherhood!
Amy is a full-time, stay-at-home mom and blogger behind Amy’s Balancing Act where she writes about finding balance in health, motherhood, and life in general. She’s married and has two children, Chloe (4) and Brody (1), and two dogs, Maggie and Moose. I hope to connect with you! Facebook – Pinterest