A Smart Start! : The Health Benefits of Breastfeeding (for Mommy and Baby)

The way you choose to nourish your newborn is a personal preference. But, if you’ve chosen to breastfeed your baby, you have made a great decision. There are numerous health benefits for not only babies, but moms as well. Read on to learn all about how you can get off to a smart start from the very moment you bring your baby into the world!  Many experts agree, that breastfeeding is one of the healthiest things you can do for your baby if you are able to.

Health Benefits for Baby

Most pediatricians recommend nursing your baby for about a full year. But, even if that’s not on your agenda, they feel that breastfeeding for even a short amount of time can be beneficial. How? The health benefits for your baby include:

  • Long Term Protection from Illness-A baby who is breastfed tends to be healthier overall. This is because your breastmilk is designed primarily for them, and it’s filled with everything your baby can possibly need. The milk’s enzymes and proteins help protect babies from respiratory infections, ear infections, and other illnesses a baby can develop later in life like Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac’s Disease, and even Crohn’s Disease.
  • Higher IQ-A controversial topic; many studies actually do show that babies who were breastfed have a higher intelligence level compared to babies who were formula fed. Studies also have shown that breastfed babies are more verbally proficient.
  • Promotes a Healthy Weight-Breastfed babies tend to be of a healthier weight, and are less likely to become obese throughout their life, but especially during toddlerhood and childhood.
  • SIDS Prevention-Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a concern of all parents. But, breastfeeding protects against RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). This virus has been known to cause the lungs to inflame and contribute to SIDS, especially during the first few months of your baby’s life. Nursing combats this concern.
  • Helps Nourish Preemies-Since your breastmilk is specifically made and designed for your child, it can aid a premature baby in areas that they need to get stronger or more stable in. The milk adapts to your baby’s needs, making it richer and higher in necessary nutrients. Formula cannot do this!

Health Benefits for Moms

Moms can reap benefits from breastfeeding too! Among the most vital and valuable are:

  • Post-Partum Relief-When you breastfeed, your body releases special hormones (Oxytocin) that are known to aid in the process of shrinking the uterus. The uterus shrinks much quicker than a mom who formula feeds. In addition, moms who nurse also experience significantly less post-partum bleeding.
  • Rapid Weight Loss-Breastfeeding burns up a lot of calories. While your body is constantly working so hard to produce milk, nursing tends to speed up your metabolism; helping you get back to a healthy, pre-pregnancy weight. Contrary to popular belief, you are more likely to lose weight quicker, despite the fact that you are consuming extra calories to nurse.
  • Combats Cancer-In the long run, moms that choose to breastfeed are less likely to get pre-menopausal ovarian cancer, or even breast cancer. While you may not be thinking that far down the road, it is never too late to start!
  • Stronger Bones-Also relating to later in life; some studies report that women who nursed have a lower risk of post-menopausal osteoporosis. Nursing helps your bones absorb calcium more effectively, thus making them much denser.
  • Mentally Satisfying-Post-partum depression is real, and it affects many moms. Nursing helps combat the baby blues, thanks to all of the hormones your body releases. Some of them make your body feel euphoric, giving off a natural high. Breastfeeding makes you feel confident, powerful, and happier overall.

You have to make many choices as a parent. But, one choice you should consider is breastfeeding. It has a wide variety of health benefits for both you and your baby, and it is a true, bonding experience.