Many moms-to-be (as well as dads-to-be) know that breastfeeding has several important health advantages for babies, such as an increased immune system and fewer infections. Yet in addition to the many ways your baby benefits from breastfeeding, there are significant benefits for moms too. It really is true that breast is best, for both of you. Here are 7 top reasons why.
How you benefit from breastfeeding
We find the following list from Parents.com to be very helpful, which we’d like to share here:
Lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer
Studies show that women who breastfeed have a decreased risk of these particular cancers later in life.
Helps you lose pregnancy weight
Since producing milk for your baby burns about 300-500 calories a day, nursing mothers tend to have an easier time losing their pregnancy weight in a healthy way: slowly and without dieting.
Causes your uterus to shrink back to pre-pregnancy size quicker
Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size more quickly, at about 6 weeks after delivery, compared with 10 weeks if you don’t breastfeed.
Delays the resuming of your period
In most women, breastfeeding your baby exclusively (no bottles or formula) will delay ovulation, which in turn delays menstruation. This is because nursing causes the release of prolactin, which hinders the production of estrogen and progesterone and the triggering of ovulation. Moms who nurse exclusively usually see their periods return 6-8 months after delivery, compared to a full year for those who do not solely breastfeed.
Gives you closeness with your baby
Most moms say that this is the biggest benefit of breastfeeding. Nursing is something special the two of you share and forms a bond that lasts far beyond the feeding sessions. It’s a precious time, enabling you and your baby to be skin to skin and for you to know that your baby is getting the nutrition he/she needs from your own breast milk.
Saves you money
Breastfeeding is essentially free. According to smartasset.com, the cost of formula can range anywhere from $2.25 to $8 per day. That’s $821.25 to $2920 a year! Even if you buy an electric pump, a nursing pillow and several nursing bras, you’ll still only spend about one-fifth the cost of a year’s supply of formula.
In lactation groups, infant music classes or on playdates, breastfeeding enables women to learn from and share information with other moms while taking care of their babies.
Additional benefits of breastfeeding for you
- At night, breastfeeding is much easier and faster than preparing a bottle of formula.
- Breastfeeding allows you to be more mobile with your baby without having to carry a bag full of bottle-feeding equipment.
- Breastfeeding is also better for the environment, since there are no formula cans/bottles to throw away.
How your baby benefits from breastfeeding
Boosts immunity and prevents illnesses
Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from ear infections, asthma, allergies, childhood cancers, respiratory tract infections, GI illnesses and other common childhood ailments, in large part because their immune system is strengthened by antibodies and other immune-boosting factors passed on through their mothers’ milk. Colostrum, the protein-rich, low-fat “pre-milk” produced by your breasts before your real milk comes in, is particularly rich in these antibodies and is very important for your baby in those first few days of life.
Decreases the likelihood of childhood obesity
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be obese as children.
Fewer allergies and skin rashes
Studies have shown that breastfeeding significantly contributes to a decreased incidence of allergies and eczema.
Important emotional development
The close bodily contact between you and your baby during breastfeeding builds a strong emotional foundation for self-confidence throughout life.
Read our blogs on the subject
We’ve written several informative blogs about breastfeeding which you can read here.
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby, please call us at (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment to see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We love talking with new moms and dads and will take all the time you need to have your questions answered. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners