Last Updated on May 27, 2021 by Ines
Breastfeeding is an excellent foundation for a child’s future. Its positive effects on the baby’s health are both short- and long-term. However, breastfeeding not benefits only your baby but also you as a nursing mother!
We gathered all the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and baby, which will surely convince you that nursing is the best thing for both of you.
Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby. Close contact is just as important for a baby’s mental development as the proper nutrition for his physical growth.
Breast milk is perfectly adapted to the baby’s needs. It contains precisely those nutrients that he needs at a given moment and environment.
World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend exclusive breastfeeding for infants in the first six months of life, meaning that babies do not receive any food or liquid other than breast milk, not even water or unsweetened tea.
Only after the age of six months, solid foods begin slowly added to the baby’s diet, while breastfeeding continues until the age of two years or more.
Breastfeeding has a range of benefits! From the good impact on a child’s development and maternal health to the economic gains, and even environmental benefits.
Benefits of breastfeeding for a baby
Breastfeeding has many physiological benefits. It positively affects the child’s development, improves health, and helps him fight against various diseases. And then there is also an emotional area where breastfeeding is also extremely important.
1. Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for babies:
Breast milk contains all the nutrients a baby needs in the first six months of life. Its composition changes together with the baby’s needs. In such a way, the baby is provided by precisely what he needs in a given time.
Even during one breastfeeding, the milk changes: at the beginning, it is less caloric, to quench thirst, and later more fatty to satisfy hunger.
2. Breastfeeding boosts the baby’s immune system:
Breast milk carries antibodies to diseases that the mother has already overcome. By nursing, the baby receives them through milk, which increases her resistance to those diseases.
Especially colostrum, the first milk your newborn gets, is rich in antibodies and nutrients. Colostrum is essential for immunity and puts a nursing baby at a huge advantage over a formula-fed one.
Nursing also prolongs the natural immunity against mumps, measles, and polio.
Breastfed babies tend to be more resistant to disease later in childhood and even in adulthood.
3. Emotional benefits of breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is an invisible umbilical cord that reconnects mother and baby after birth.
During breastfeeding, the baby touches, listens, looks, and smells the mom. Thus he has the opportunity to know her through all the senses. The close contact gives him a fundamental sense of trust in the world, which will encourage him in later stages of development.
4. Breastfeeding protects against infections:
Breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, diarrhea, gastrointestinal infections, and respiratory diseases. They are also less likely to get meningitis.
5. Nursing decreases the risk of chronic conditions later in life:
Breastfed children are less likely to get childhood diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, childhood asthma, and childhood leukemia.
Studies had also shown that breastfeeding significantly reduces the chances of developing overweight and obesity.
6. Fewer allergies in both childhood and adulthood:
Babies are generally not hypersensitive to the food that nature has given them. Breastfed babies can experience problems if the mother ingests food with a substance to which the baby is sensitive and comes into contact with it through milk. However, the condition improves if the mother stops eating this type of food.
7. Better jaw and oral muscle development:
The very mechanics of active sucking (compared to passive swallowing in a bottle) promotes the proper development of the jaw, oral muscles, and cheekbones, which in turn has a very beneficial effect on the development of the child’s speech.
8. Other breastfeeding benefits:
- Breast milk is very easy to digest and does not cause constipation. Breastfed babies, in general, experience less colic and gas.
- Some research suggests a correlation between breastfeeding and a smaller percentage of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Moving from one breast to another improves the baby’s movement coordination.
- Breastfed babies are on general calmer.
- Breastfed infants may do better on intelligence and behavior tests.
Benefits of breastfeeding for a mom
Breastfeeding benefits mom’s physical and mental health, both in the short and long term.
If the mother breastfeeds the newborn immediately after birth, the balance of hormones established during pregnancy is maintained for a longer time. That has a very beneficial effect on her general well-being.
1. Breastfeeding contributes to a faster uterine contraction:
While breastfeeding, the baby stimulates the nipple, which causes oxytocin secretion in the mother’s body. Under the influence of the hormone oxytocin, the uterus contracts more intensely.
Therefore, the uterus returns more quickly to its original size, which reduces the likelihood of severe postpartum hemorrhage.
2. Breastfeeding may help in losing weight:
Many mothers experience excess weight after giving birth. Breastfeeding can help them reach the weight they had before giving birth.
The mother’s body prepares some reserves for breastfeeding during pregnancy. That is a natural preparation for breastfeeding time.
During breastfeeding are the extra kilograms slowly “converted” into milk without special measures. Of course, with a proper mother’s diet.
3. Breastfeeding decreases the risk for certain diseases:
Women who have breastfed for a long time are less likely to develop breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding also reduces type 2 diabetes and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Women who breastfeed have a lower risk for high blood pressure, arthritis, high blood fats, and heart disease.
4. Bonding between mother and child:
Breastfeeding offers many opportunities for bonding and thus builds a loving relationship between mother and child.
Hormones released during breastfeeding have a calming effect on the general mother’s well-being and increase her perception of the baby’s needs.
Breastfeeding mothers are often more confident. They are proud of their body, which prepares and offers the ideal food for their baby.
5. Breastfeeding saves time:
As breast milk is always at the right temperature and ready to drink, there is no need for:
- calculate how much formula you need
- cleaning and sterilizing bottles
- mix and warm up bottles, which comes to the fore even more in the middle of the night
- taking all the equipment on the go
- figure out ways to warm up bottles when you are not at home
Economic and environmental benefits of breastfeeding
Breast milk is for free, which is certainly not neglectable in times when many young families are struggling financially.
The monthly savings of a family can be expressed in hundreds of dollars. If we add the costs for bottles, nipples, sterilizers, and energy, a surprisingly high amount is accumulated in one year.
With less waste and smaller energy and water consumption, breastfeeding also aids in environmental protection.
The decision to breastfeed should be made by each mother alone, according to her life circumstances and beliefs.
Sometimes the desire is enough, and the mother breastfeeds without any problems, but often she needs support, help, and the right information at the right time. If breastfeeding doesn’t flow instantly, don’t give up! Reach out for help, use one of the many breast pumps and nursing bottles, and stay calm.
There are so many benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mom that it is worth trying!