One of the most important parenting decisions you have to make is whether or not to breastfeed your baby. This decision will draw strong opinions from everyone around you. Being that it is such a personal choice, you should do what feels right for you and your baby.
These benefits are not just for your baby, either. You will receive just as many incredible contributions to your new life as a parent. All of the benefits bring the two of you closer and ensure healthy recovery for you and development for baby.
Table of Contents
- 6 Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
- 3 Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby
- Breastfeeding From Birth
- Weaning Your Baby
6 Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
1. The release of oxytocin and prolactin
- Oxytocin and prolactin are known as the ‘mothering’ hormones.
- A rush of relaxation may occur when your milk lets down. This is caused by these hormones and can help you relax even when stressed.
2. Lowers cancer risk
- Ovarian and cervical cancer are at lower rates while breastfeeding.
- The hormones that your body releases help to dissolve the fat used to feed your baby in utero to be used in breast milk.
4. Save money
- Buying formula is expensive, especially after adding up the amount of formula used over time. Breastfeeding is a natural way to protect your baby and your wallet.
5. Faster recovery
- Your body releases hormones that help your uterus bleed less and repair itself faster.
6. Birth control
- Breastfeeding has about a 98-99% success rate in preventing pregnancy.
- Ovulation is slowed down or even stopped while breastfeeding.
3 Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby
- The primary benefits for your baby while breastfeeding has to do with the immune system.
- Breast milk helps to line baby’s stomach with colostrum and protects the intestines from infection.
- Breastfeeding can soothe an upset child. It is okay to breastfeed when your baby just wants support. The relaxing nature of breastfeeding will help you both.
- The bond created during breastfeeding allows your baby to feel comforted and will be helpful later in life.
- Children who have been breastfed have shown to be more secure and independent as adults.
All of these benefits increase the longer you breastfeed. You can breastfeed for as long as you would like, but the first six months are crucial. This is when your baby develops many of his immunities.
Breastfeeding From Birth
1. 0-6 months
- Colostrum, a highly concentrated fluid, has the primary function to protect your child from infection. It is produced during the last few months of pregnancy. The first few days are critical for colostrum production since it eventually converts into breast milk.
- Breastfeeding helps to heal your body by keeping you off of your feet.
- There is less of a chance for your baby to develop allergies, especially when breastfeeding for six months. Introducing solid foods too early can cause increase the chance of your baby developing allergies.
2. 9 months
- Your child is probably doing a lot by now. Crawling, teething, standing up, et cetera. This can cause your baby to pick up tons of icky germs. Breastfeeding can give your baby the nutrients needed to protect him from his environment.
3. A year or more
- Long-lasting benefits include prevention of:
- Chron’s disease
- High cholesterol
- Ulcerative colitis
- These advantages also include comfort for your baby. Even at toddler age, your child can be comforted by breastfeeding, especially if he hurt himself or is fighting sleep at the end of the day.
Weaning Your Baby
Weaning your baby is when you breastfeed him until he no longer drinks breast milk. Weaning will start naturally when your baby starts eating solid foods. The right time to start differs for everyone.
Early weaning can be problematic for your baby. It can cause digestive or skin problems, as well as nutritional issues and weight gain. You want to avoid early weaning to avoid the higher risk of these challenges.
Breastfeeding problems can inadvertently lead to early weaning. Some of these problems include lack of support, low breast milk supply, health or breast problems, or your return to work. You want to talk with your doctor before you decide to wean your baby early. Most of the issues can be resolved quickly.
When your baby reaches six months, he has new nutritional needs that your breast milk cannot provide. He will also need to learn eating skills and try new types of foods. Your baby will need to get used to eating the foods he will be eating before being weaned completely.
Weaning your baby can cause problems for you, too. Your baby may not want to be weaned, and you may not want to wean him. Easing your child off of breastfeeding is the best thing you can do.
Plugged ducts, engorgement, or breast infections can happen while weaning. Expressing milk between feedings or slowly increasing the amount of time in between feedings can help with these painful problems.
When you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first few months of its life, you are allowing him to receive all the wonderful benefits that come about from doing so. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed is entirely up to you. Knowing the benefits is just the start of the process of figuring out what to do.
The amount of time you should breastfeed is no less than six months and up to a year or more. It all depends on what you feel is right for you and your baby. It is important to keep in mind the benefits of continuing to breastfeed. While it is easy to wean your child as soon as possible, it might not be the best choice depending on your situation.