We would like to dedicate this post to the encouragement and awareness of the benefits and joys of breastfeeding. Here is a list of some of the many benefits of breastfeeding followed by useful internet links with oodles of great resources from our international breastfeeding community.
Breastfeeding benefits include:
- Breastfeeding helps to develop close emotional connections between mother and baby.
- Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues and body language.
- Colostrum is the first breast milk produced after child birth. This special milk is low in fat and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies that keep your baby healthy. It is lower in volume, but higher in concentrated nutrition. In fact, the colostrum is responsible for increasing your baby’s immunity by providing beneficial antibodies and disease destroying leukocytes. It also protects the baby’s intestines by coating them so they are less permeable to foreign substances. The colostrum milk is extremely easy to digest and is the perfect first food for your baby. Breastfeeding early and often will encourage your breasts to produce mature breast milk around the third or fourth day after birth. Therefore, frequent breast feeding during the first few days will ensure your baby all the benefits of the colostrum.
- Hormones that produce breast milk have a soothing effect on the mom. Breast feeding is a joyful, relaxing experience.
- Breast feeding immediately after birth releases the bonding hormone oxytocin which helps to expel the placenta by contracting the uterus and safeguards against hemorrhage.
- Oxytocin also aids in the shrinking of the uterus back to normal size following child birth.
- Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes bonding, connectedness, and maternal behavior. It is strongly released during childbirth and nursing in both mother and child. It is also released during skin-to-skin contact which benefits bonding between fathers and their babies as well.
- Breast-fed babies are more alert.
- Breastfeeding is custom made to meet your baby’s individual dietary needs.
- Immunity is passed from mother to baby during breast feeding.
- When nursing, the baby receives immunological protection against viruses and bacteria.
- Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect babies against urinary tract, respiratory, and intestinal tract infections.
- Breast milk provides protection against allergies, asthma, and eczema.
- Breast milk increases infant growth and development.
- Babies work harder to extract milk from the breast than the bottle, helping mouth jaws and teeth develop.
- Breast milk protects against gastroenteritis and pneumonia during the first few months while baby’s immune system is developing.
- Breast milk contains lactoferrin which provides optimal absorption of iron and protects the intestines from harmful bacteria.
- Breastfeeding leads to optimal brain development.
- Premature breast milk contains special nutrients tailored to the needs of premature babies. Breast fed premature babies can leave the ICU sooner.
- Breastfeeding delays the return of ovulation, which decreases the risk of iron deficiency in the mother.
- Breastfeeding promotes rapid and sustained weight loss. Milk production burns approx 200-500 calories a day.
- Women who breast feed for at least six months in their lifetime have a decreased risk of breast cancer, ovarian, and uterine cancers.
- Fathers can bond with breast fed babies by volunteering to be the main solid food feeder later.
- Breast-fed babies have less impact on the environment and represent a more efficient use of natural resources.
Breastfeeding Tips from our In-house Breastfeeding Expert:
- Be sure to breastfeed when you are relaxed.
- Collect yourself emotionally before breastfeeding.
- Never breast feed when you are upset or angry.
- Remember: What is affecting me right now affects my baby.
Getting the baby to latch on:
Be sure to place the entire nipple in the baby’s mouth, including the entire areola.
For sore breasts:
Compress alternating warm and cool cloth.
Cracked breasts heal faster when exposed to air.
For good consistent milk flow:
Drink lots of liquids.
Try eating more oatmeal.
Keep chest and back covered to prevent getting a chill.
If milk flow is slow:
Shower with hot water on chest and back.
Iron a wash cloth to get it warm and place on back and breasts.
Talk to your baby and sing to him or her!