The amazing benefits of breastfeeding
As a new mom you may have heard that breast milk is best for your baby. Choosing to breastfeed opens up a world of benefits for you and your baby. The immediate and long-term benefits of breastfeeding can be very powerful for both of you. You may be surprised by all the positive health advantages beyond basic nutrition that breastfeeding provides.
What is breast milk?
Breast milk contains a flawless balance of fats proteins carbohydrates vitamins minerals and antibodies to benefit your baby. There are two parts to breast milk: colostrum and full milk.
Colostrum the "premilk" that comes in after you deliver your baby is jam-packed with antibodies high in protein and low in sugar to protect and keep your newborn baby satisfied in the first days of life says the American Pregnancy Association. When the full milk comes in - typically three to four days after delivery - it is a lot higher in sugar and volume than colostrum. The full milk is intended to be digested quickly and contains a lot more calories that contribute to your baby's rapid growth.
Benefits for baby
In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs breast milk is full of cells hormones and antibodies to protect your baby's developing immune system from illness. Breastfed babies tend to be healthier with fewer infections have fewer visits to the doctor and use less antibiotics. Research shows that breastfed babies have a decreased risk of asthma respiratory infections ear infections eczema diarrhea and vomiting sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) childhood leukemia childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that along with the immune boost that breastfeeding provides breast milk also helps your baby's developing digestive system causing fewer problems with constipation diarrhea and food allergies. It is rich in fatty acids that protects brain cells and provides the perfect mix of proteins for building muscle tissue.
One of the most important benefits of breastfeeding is the emotional bond developed between you and your baby. The eye contact physical closeness and skin-to-skin contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure.
Benefits for mom
While breastfeeding has a huge impact on your baby's development it can also have many benefits for your body as well. After you give birth breastfeeding can help your body recover more quickly and painlessly. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) breastfeeding helps decrease your uterus size and helps you lose postpartum weight.
Breastfeeding also has long-term health and disease prevention benefits. Moms who breastfeed their babies have a decreasing risk of developing osteoporosis cardiovascular disease and breast and other cancers throughout their lives notes Scientific American.
Benefits for the family
Besides the amazing health benefits of breastfeeding moms who nurse their babies enjoy many social and economic benefits too. It is reported by the Natural Resources Defense Council that women who breastfeed save an average of $800 annually on infant formula. Additionally, breastfeeding purchases like breast pumps and lactation supplies are now considered tax deductible for nursing moms.
Ideal breastfeeding diet
A good breastfeeding diet means that you are eating sufficient healthy foods for you and your baby. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a well-balanced breastfeeding diet should be composed of fresh fruits and vegetables lean meats and fish dairy products and whole grains. Breastfeeding moms should also make sure to drink plenty of water each day to keep themselves hydrated and maintain milk volume.
While breastfeeding may have numerous benefits it may not always be easy. When you first begin nursing you may experience some discomfort with nipple tenderness and breast fullness. Other complications like engorgement plugged ducts and mastitis may temporarily develop during your breastfeeding journey details the Medline Plus. However doctors and lactation specialists are there to help moms through any complications and Medline Plus notes that most problems are easily treated or solved.
If you have a problem with breastfeeding contact a lactation consultant with Reid Hospital's Family Birthing Center.