The Benefits of Breastfeeding for both Mother and Baby
Posted December 23, 2019
For mothers everywhere, making the decision whether to breastfeed or not is a very personal matter. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommend breastfeeding for 6 months. There are many health benefits to breastfeeding for both mother and baby, which we’ve outlined below to give you the latest research and information. Of course, every family is unique, and the decision is ultimately up to what is best for you as a parent.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby:
- Ideal Nutrition: breast milk contains everything a baby could need for the first six months of life in the right proportions. A mother’s body changes the composition of the milk as the baby’s needs change, especially during the first month of life.
- Reduced Risk of Disease: Studies have shown that breast milk is full of antibodies to help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria and has been found to reduce the risk or severity of illnesses like ear infections, respiratory tract infections, colds, allergies, stomach issues and even SIDS.
- Healthy Weight: Breastfeeding has been shown to prevent childhood obesity – in fact, studies have shown that obesity rates are 15-30% lower in breastfed babies compared to formula fed babies.
- Emotional and Cognitive Health: In some studies, breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores later in childhood, and the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact help the baby bond with the mother and feel more secure.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom:
- Weight Loss: While you may have an increased appetite when breastfeeding, your body is also using more calories. Studies show that after about 3 months of breastfeeding, mothers likely experience an increase in fat burning and have been shown to lose more weight than mothers who don’t breastfeed.
- Lower Risk of Depression: Postpartum depression is a risk for mothers after childbirth, but women who breastfeed seem less likely to develop postpartum depression. Breastfeeding increases oxytocin which has long term anti-anxiety effects and encourages bonding.
- Reduced Risk of Disease: Some studies show that the total time a woman spends breastfeeding is linked with a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. There have also been links between breastfeeding and a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
While there are many benefits to breastfeeding, it is important to note that the main goal is for your baby to be fed and healthy, which means formula is still a completely valid option. If you can’t breastfeed, your baby has a health condition or for whatever other reason, baby formula or other liquids can be used to give your baby the nutrients he or she needs to grow. Summa Health has many resources available to new mothers as they begin this journey with their child – learn more about breastfeeding or talk to your Summa Health doctor to get more information so you can make the best decision for your family.