Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom and Baby

For many first time moms, breastfeeding can be an overwhelming experience. There can be challenges with milk supply, latching, let down, lip ties, engorgement, and a mental and emotional adjustment it can take on a new mom. We think it is one of the hardest things that new moms have to deal with during the 4th trimester that no one can really prepare you for. And although it has its challenges, it is also incredibly rewarding and beneficial for both mom and baby. 

According to the World Health Organization: “ breast milk is an important source of energy and nutrients in children aged 6–23 months. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months. Breast milk is also a source of energy and nutrients during illness, and can reduce mortality among children who are malnourished.”

There are many benefits to breastfeeding, but we thought we would highlight the following five: 

1. Best Food for Baby 

During the first few days of nursing, thick yellowish fluid is produced in the mother’s breasts. It’s called colostrum and it’s super-rich in protein and antibodies which help the baby in developing immunity against different types of bacteria and infections. It’s undoubtedly the best, most nutritious food for your baby. It has all the right components a young life needs in order to survive the initial few weeks after birth. And the best part is - breast milk’s composition changes instinctively according to the changing needs of the baby.                                

2. Helps in Contraction of the Uterus 

When you are pregnant your uterus grows tremendously in size. It expands from the size of a tennis ball to cover up your entire abdominal area. After pregnancy, the uterus shrinks back to its original size via a process called ‘involution’. And when you breastfeed your baby, the love hormone - oxytocin is released in your body which makes sure this process is run in a smooth and trouble-free manner. Oxytocin also helps in reducing postpartum bleeding and it promotes a strong sense of bonding between you and your baby.

3. Assists in Baby’s Brain Development 

A baby’s brain grows to double its size during the first 3-4 months after birth. During this time if the baby is being exclusively breastfed, his/her brain will have 20 to 30 percent more white matter as compared to a baby who’s not being breastfed exclusively. The long-chain fatty acids found in mother’s breast milk such as DHA is known to assist baby’s brain development.                                          

4. Long Term Health Benefits for Mother 

An article from "Today's Parent" highlights some great benefits for nursing moms. This includes: lower risk of developing breast cancer, endometrial, uterine, thyroid and ovarian cancer and lesser probability of contracting coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Moms can also be at a lesser risk of developing osteoporosis, hip fractures and postpartum depression.

5. Develops Immune System of the Baby 

Breast milk not only provides nourishment but also, it protects your baby. When you breastfeed your baby, you provide him/her with bioactive components like stem cells, certain kinds of antibodies, hormones and enzymes which later on helps him/her fight diseases like gastroenteritis, middle ear infections, asthma, eczema, respiratory tract infections, colds, flu, gut infections, celiac disease and even diabetes.
 

Lots of love to you and your little ones.

 

Sources:
Huffington Post
Urban Child Institute 
NHS/UK

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