10 Best Reasons to Breastfeed

Got milk? Then consider giving it to your baby. Breastfeeding remains a hot topic on baby-centered blogs, not to mention in the general press. For first-time parents especially, learning about the benefits breastfeeding has to offer both you and your baby can help you make an informed decision. So read on to find out the best reasons to breastfeed:

Benefits for Baby

Ideal Nutrition for Better Growth: Breast milk, being designed by the human body specifically for growing babies, is quite simply ideal. It’s a perfect blend of the proteins, fats, and sugars as well as vitamins and minerals that a human baby needs in these first, critical months of development. No formula, no matter how good, can imitate this combination perfectly.

Better Digestive Health: Babies who are breastfed tend to have better digestive health. They are less prone to bouts of diarrhea and have less chance of developing serious digestive disorders like celiac disease or Crohn’s. They also have a decreased risk of become obese later in life and that, in itself, can decrease the chances of other health issues like heart disease.

Decreased Chance of SIDS: Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a heart-breaking condition responsible for around 1,500 infant deaths a year – and is the number one cause of death of babies up to 12 months old. However, statistics show that babies who are breastfed have a whopping 50% reduced risk of SIDS.

Strong Immune System: There is ample evidence to link breastfeeding with a strong immune system. For one thing, the colostrum (or “first milk”) that a mother produces when she begins breastfeeding is loaded with the antibodies a baby’s immune system needs at this vulnerable time of life. Babies who receive this and are breastfed regularly have:

  • Fewer overall hospitalizations
  • Reduced number of ear infections
  • Fewer viral infections of any kind
  • Better response to vaccines
  • Reduced risk of autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes

Better Respiratory Health: Breastfeeding can also improve the respiratory health of your baby. Studies have found that breastfed babies have fewer incidents of colds, flus, or pneumonia. They also are less vulnerable to allergies of all kinds and to serious chronic respiratory conditions like asthma. In short, breastfeeding can literally help your baby to breathe easier!

Benefits for Mom

Better Postpartum Recovery: Postpartum recovery can be hard on a woman’s body – and breastfeeding can really help! When a woman breastfeeds, her body releases a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone helps the uterus to contract. As a matter of fact, studies have found that the uterus of a woman who breastfeeds takes about 6 weeks to contract to regular size. In contrast, it takes 10 weeks for women who do not breastfeed. This contraction is important, especially right after birth, since it can decrease the risk of postpartum bleeding.

Breastfeeding women are also less like to experience postpartum depression, another serious complication following birth. Researchers have found that the ability to bond with your baby and your overall emotional satisfaction with the birthing process can be greatly enhanced by the act of breastfeeding.

Delayed Menstruation: Breastfeeding women receive the added benefit of delayed ovulation – and menstruation – when they’re feeding their new baby regularly. This effectively acts as a natural birth control to lengthen the time between pregnancies and to give a woman’s body the time it needs to recover before becoming pregnant again.

Decreased Risk of Chronic Diseases: Women who breastfeed have a decreased risk of many chronic diseases, such as breast and ovarian cancer later on in life. Breastfeeding has also been linked to lower instances of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure – all serious health conditions.

Interestingly, breastfeeding can also protect a woman from osteoporosis after she hits menopause. Pregnancy is shown to actually lead to stronger and denser bones because of the body’s use of calcium at this time.

Better Postpartum Weight Control: Every woman wants to lose that baby fat – and breastfeeding is one of the best ways to do it. Breastfeeding burns between 400 and 500 calories a day on average. This extra calorie expenditure can make it a lot easier to drop that baby weight and get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans!
Easy and Economical: Breastfeeding requires no equipment, no need to heat up milk and no bottles to mess with. It is always available and is always the perfect temperature.

If you are raising baby on a budget, there is the economics to consider as well. Breastmilk is free and it’s estimated that a family can save between $1,600 and $5,800 a year on formula when they’re breastfeeding instead. That’s a lot of money!

Did you breastfeed your baby – or are you planning to? Share your thoughts on breastfeeding in the comments!

Tags : baby   health   nutrition   breastfeeding   

Kirsten Kawasaki
I breastfed for all these reasons but it was still the WORST experience of my life. I'd rather give birth ten times over.