It is no secret that “breast is best” when it comes to feeding a baby. Most people know that new mothers should breastfeed, but what are the specific advantages of breast feeding?
Physiological Advantages of Breastfeeding
Breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight infections such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and meningitis. In addition to infections, breastfeeding may help protect babies from allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and SIDS.
Breast milk is the ideal food for a developing child’s digestive system. In addition to containing protein, fat, and sugar, breast milk contains several vitamins and minerals essential for ideal development, yet often unavailable in commercial formulas.
Breastfed children experience less digestive irritations such as constipation and diarrhea.
Breastfed babies’ immune systems respond more positively to vaccinations.
Less Risk of Obesity
Breastfed babies are less likely to gain unnecessary weight during childhood and adulthood, according to the US Department of Health and Human services.
Psychological/Emotional Advantages of Breastfeeding
Babies who have been breastfed exclusively for 6 months tend to have IQ scores 5-10 points higher than babies who were formula fed.
Many mothers report enjoying the physical and emotional bonding experience that comes with nursing. In addition, emotional bonds tend to be enhanced by breastfeeding.
Practical Advantages of Breastfeeding
Breast milk is free. In addition, because breastfed babies are less prone to infections and illness, there will be fewer trips to the doctor, and fewer medical-related expenses. Also of note, women who breastfeed are less likely to take time off of work to care for a sick child, allowing the mother to earn more money.
Breastfeeding doesn’t require packaging, so there is less impact on the environment.
Breastfeeding is convenient because food is always readily available to babies. When fresh, breast milk is always sterile, so moms don’t ever need to sanitize bottles to feed the baby. In addition, fresh breast milk is always the right temperature, so there is never a need to heat up any bottles for feeding.
Benefits for Breastfeeding Mothers
Increased confidence in one’s ability to mother her child, which can then result in increased self-confidence in other areas of mom’s life.
Because breastfeeding is physically demanding, mothers report better luck with weight loss after pregnancy, and a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight and figure.
Studies suggest that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer, and may decrease the risk of developing uterine and ovarian cancers.