There are many benefits to breastfeeding. Even if you are able to do it for only a short time, your baby’s immune system can benefit from breast milk. Here are many other benefits of breast milk for a mother, her baby, and others:
1. HEALTH BENEFITS FOR MOM AND BABY INCLUDE:
i. Enhanced Immune System and Resistance to Infection
- Breast milk has agents (called antibodies) in it to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses. Recent studies show that babies who are exclusively breastfed for 6 months are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, and may be less likely to develop childhood obesity.
- Because breastfed babies are sick less often they have fewer visits to health care providers.
- Breastfed infants’ immune systems (the system that helps fight infection) have a better response to immunizations like polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and Haemophilus influenzae, and to respiratory syncytial virus infection, a common infant respiratory infection.
- When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile (or clean).
ii. Nutrition and Growth Benefits
- Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother’s milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby’s growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
- As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.
- Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
- Although researchers are not certain, results from some studies show that breastfed children have greater brain development than non-breastfed children.
iii. Improved Health of Mother
- Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds of pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size and lessens any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth.
- Breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding (no supplementing with formula) delays the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. (However, you should still talk with your health care provider about contraceptive choices.)
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
2. EMOTIONAL BENEFITS INCLUDE:
i. Convenience and Making Your Life Easier
- Breastfeeding saves time and money. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!
- A mother can give her baby immediate satisfaction by providing her breast milk when the baby is hungry.
- Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby.
ii. Positive Feelings
- Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to a newborn and can help them feel more secure, and warm and comforted.
- Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.
3. SOCIETAL BENEFITS INCLUDE:
- Breastfeeding saves on health care costs. Total medical care costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants since breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
- Breastfeeding contributes to a more productive workforce. Breastfeeding mothers miss less work, as their infants are sick less often. Employer medical costs also are lower and employee productivity is higher.
- Breastfeeding is better for our environment because there is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.