The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mother and Baby

There's many choices and considerations that go into your choice to breastfeed. In this post I wanted to touch on the infant & maternal benefits, these were a few I considered when breastfeeding.

Infant Benefits

  1. There are many benefits to infants and babies from breast feeding and they include:

  • Neurobehavioral benefits This appears to be more related to the skin to skin contact the baby received during breastfeeding. But this contact appears to reduce infant crying, stabilizes blood glucose levels and promotes cardiorespiratory stability

  • Human milk also is beneficial to the growing GI tract of the baby. It is known to prevent gastroenteritis and reduces the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (a severe inflammation of the bowels) in preterm infants

  • Human milk also includes antibodies which are passed on from mom to baby which provides passive immunity until the baby develops their own immunity or gets their immunization shots.

  • Lowers the risk of respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections and sepsis overall.

  • Breastfeeding is also been shown to be protective against SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Maternal Benefits

  • There is a reduced risk of postpartum blood loss. This is because when you start breastfeeding it boosts a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin has many roles in the human body but in the postpartum period it helps the uterus to contract which helps to reduce bleeding.

  • Breastfeeding also delays ovulation which was likely an evolutionary mechanism to prevent another pregnancy while you are taking care of a newborn. HOWEVER, this is very variable in women and should not be used as the only means of birth control postpartum.

  • Is associated with lower rates of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer.

  • It is associated with better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. It has been shown breastfeeding reduced the risk of developing type2 diabetes.

  • And of course, there is the economic impact, breast feeding Is free and formula is expensive. Babies are already expensive so this can provide some relief to some.

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