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The Benefits Of Breastfeeding

Published on 02/17/22

Breastfeeding is the action of feeding your baby breast milk directly from your breast. Also referred to as nursing. Breastfeeding isn’t necessary or required and is normally a personal decision made by each mother. A decision that tends to draw all kinds of opinions from family members, friends, and even strangers. 

Many medical experts (the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommend breastfeeding exclusively. This means no juice, formula, or water for the first 6 months until the introduction of other foods. And to continue breastfeeding through the first year of life among regular foods. 

The frequency of breastfeeding your baby depends on your baby. Some babies prefer small meals frequently and some babies prefer longer feedings. As your baby grows, their meal preferences will change. Normally newborns prefer feeding every 2-3 hours. At 2 months old, it becomes 3-4 hours, and by six months, every 4-5 hours. 

Each baby is different and the decision when and how to breastfeed is ultimately up to you as a mother.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby

Breast milk contains the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a perfect mix of protein, fat, vitamins, and anything your baby may need to grow. Breast milk contains immunity boosting antibodies that help babies fight off infections, urinary tract infections, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroenteritis and viruses and breast milk is known to be digested more easily than formula. Science has yet to be able to replicate the healthy enzymes that are contained in breast milk. 

It also lowers the risk of your infant developing asthma or allergies. Studies have also shown that babies who are exclusive to breast milk for the first 6 months tend to develop fewer respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and diarrhea. It lowers the risk of diabetes, certain cancers, obesity, and is a supporting role in preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The connection between breast milk and SIDs is unknown but what is known is that infants that have been breastfed account for only half as many as formula fed infants.

When it comes to obesity, studies have shown that breastfed infants are less likely to be obese later on. There’s a theory: that nursing mothers are aware of their baby’s signals when they’re full. This keeps the child from being overfed. Whereas with a bottle, reading your baby’s cues can be a little harder and even harder to determine how much they’ve eaten. 

For families with a history of eczema and allergies, it may be especially beneficial. The protein found in soy and cow milk formulas can easily aggravate an allergic reaction and be harder to digest. 

In terms of development, breastfeeding has been linked – in some studies – to higher IQ scores into childhood. Breastfed infants are also more likely to gain the proper amount of weight during their quick growth periods. The research behind this notion is still unknown however, studies show that later in life, breastfed babies tend to produce higher IQ scores no matter the environment they’re brought up in. Scientists believe the fatty acids found in breastmilk are brain boosters. 

Breastmilk aids in making vaccines more effective with a better antibody response to vaccines than formula-fed. 

White Blood Cells. Mama passes immune factors and white blood cells through breast milk which helps protect your baby against type 1 diabetes, spinal meningitis, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Emotionally. Breastfeeding brings your baby close to you. Skin-to-skin contact is comforting and reassuring to an infant and allows mama and baby to bond. 

Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom

Benefits are not just for the baby. It’s for mom too! Turns out breastfeeding gives mom an advantage in the health department as well. 

What we’re all worried about, pregnant or not, is weight. It’s no secret with pregnancy, weight gain is inevitable. After the baby is born, finding a way to feel comfortable and back in your own body is with weight loss. 

Breastfeeding helps lose that pregnancy weight. Milk production burns 300 to 500 calories a day. This makes losing pregnancy weight easier to lose over time. So start calculating 20 calories per ounce and how many ounces in calories you burn that day. 20 ounces of breastmilk means 400 calories burned that day!

Breastfeeding might cause mild contractions while nursing. This helps trigger your uterus to shrink back to prepregnancy size and also lowers the risk for breast and ovarian cancer. 

In addition to lowering the risk for breast and ovarian cancer, it also helps lower your risk of osteoporosis. Breastfeeding helps lower the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. 6 months after preganncy, some bones become more dense than before pregnancy. 

Breastfeeding helps with stronger bones. Pregnant and lactating mothers absorb calcium much more efficiently, and also help your baby’s bone development in the future. 

In addition to a contracting uterus to prepregnancy size, the oxytocin released when your baby breastfeeds helps reduce post-delivery blood loss. Versus what takes 10 weeks – postpartum –  for your uterus to shrink when you don’t breastfeed. Breastfeeding is healthy and healing. 

It also delays menstruation. When breastfeeding your infant throughout the day, without any formula, it will delay ovulation. This means a delayed period! When a mother breastfeeds, it causes the release of prolactin which inhibits the production of progesterone and estrogen. This means ovulation isn’t triggered and periods may be delayed. When prolactin levels start to drop off the other two hormones will start up and kick into ovulation. 

Exclusive breastfeeding will normally drop levels for several months. And mamy moms that only nurse will see their period drop off for about 6 months and some mothers don’t get a period for up to a full year. Any woman would sign up for that! Bye bye pads and tampons!

Just like it’s a benefit for your baby, it’s a benefit for you as the mother to bond and have closeness with your baby. Most mothers say this is the best benefit to breastfeeding. Yes, even over the calories and sans period. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of specific hormones that help maternal bonding and behavior. Helping you learn your baby’s patterns, cues, eating habits, and developing trust between the two. 

Nursing is considered special and an experience between you and your baby. Between skin to skin contact, cuddles, looks, and noises, it’s a way the two of you can communicate to each other. Providing for your baby solely on breast milk alone is an empowering experience as a mother. Not just for yourself but to watch your baby grow. 

Saves money! Breastfeeding is free! Formula is not. Formula can cost up to $500 a month or up to $5000 in one year in comparison to breastmilk which is made by and produced by you and only you. Not only is it free but science cannot replicate the same antibodies and personal and genetic breakdown of your body’s breastmilk. 

Even when it comes to spending money on your breast milk by investing in nursing pillows, nursing bras, or electric pumps. All equipment together still costs about half a year’s supply of formula. 

Not to mention, costs outside of the household as well. Medical costs, about $13 billion per year, would be saved if 90% of the U.S. breastfed their newborns for at least six months.  

That means cheap, convenient and free. No bottles, no formula, no hours of sterilizing or refrigerating outside influences on your baby. A few hundred on accessories and you’re ready to go! Fewer sick days off work and fewer trips to the doctor’s office. 

Breastfeeding moms meet other breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding is like that Facebook friend group where you all share jokes, experiences, and probably GIFs. It helps cultivate friendships. Moms have a foundation to talk about experiences, parting styles, feedings, nursing overall and allows women to have positive experiences postpartum and have positive postpartum relationships. Women are bred to nurse together and take care of their babies. 

Eco-friendly. Along with not taking part in buying bottles, formulas, and contributing to the production of said formulas, breastfeeding makes you more eco-friendly. Dairy cows are raised to make infant formula. This has been proven to be a contributing factor to global warming. Dairy cows spew massive amounts of methane through their manure, belching, and flatulence that turn into harmful greenhouse gases that get released into our atmosphere. 

So When We Talk About Breastfeeding…

If given the choice, the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any negatives when considering formula as an alternative. Most medical professionals would recommend it for everyone, for every baby, as long as possible. As long as there are no medical issues to prevent it.
With the antibodies and immune factors and all other elements that protect your baby from illness and disease, it’s the best start you can give your baby!

Let us not forget the biggest benefits for you as mom. Weight loss? No period? Lower risk of ovarian cancer and osteoporosis? If you are able, breastfeeding is the best start not only for your baby but for yourself postpartum. Health and convenience sell themselves!

No matter what you’re considering, talk to your healthcare providers to help guide you in the right direction for you and your baby. 

Call Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine in NYC

Family planning and choosing a method of breastfeeding or formula are some of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life.

To make the best choices, you need reliable information about some of the best methods and care, and medical advice to be sure what is best for you. The doctors at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine offer all of those services along with their expertise in family planning. Please don’t hesitate to call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City or schedule an appointment online.