Breastfeeding is a natural and important aspect of motherhood, providing numerous benefits for both mother and baby. It is the recommended method of feeding for infants by leading health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Despite its many benefits, many mothers still choose to use formula or stop breastfeeding earlier than they had planned. It is important to understand the benefits of breastfeeding so that mothers can make informed decisions about feeding their babies.
12 Benefits of Breastfeeding for both mother and baby
Breast milk is the perfect food for a baby, providing all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for growth and development. The composition of breast milk changes over time to meet the changing needs of the baby. It is also easier to digest than formula and contains antibodies to protect the baby from illnesses and infections. Breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases later in life.
Breastfeeding creates a strong bond between mother and baby through skin-to-skin contact and the release of hormones such as oxytocin. This hormone is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” and helps to create a sense of comfort and security for the baby. This bond can also help the mother to feel more confident and secure in her role as a mother.
Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its normal size after giving birth, which can reduce the risk of postpartum bleeding and help the mother recover more quickly. It also helps to release the hormone prolactin, which promotes feelings of relaxation and reduces stress levels.
Breastfeeding burns calories, which can help the mother lose weight gained during pregnancy. It also releases hormones that regulate hunger and metabolism, making it easier for the mother to control her weight.
Lower Cancer Risk
Breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers. This is believed to be due to the hormonal changes that occur during breastfeeding and the removal of potentially cancer-causing substances from the body.
Formula can be expensive, especially if a baby requires a specialized formula. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is completely free and requires no additional expenses. It also saves time, as there is no need to prepare bottles or clean and sterilize equipment.
Breastfeeding requires no preparation, making it convenient for mothers who are on the go. It can also be done anywhere, at any time, without the need for additional supplies or equipment.
Breastfeeding releases hormones that help the mother and baby relax and sleep, making it easier for both to get the rest they need. This can also help to reduce stress and anxiety levels in both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of allergies and asthma in babies. This is believed to be due to the transfer of antibodies and immune cells from the mother to the baby through breast milk.
Studies have shown that breastfed babies have higher IQs and perform better in school than formula-fed babies. This is thought to be due to the positive impact of the nutrients and hormones in breast milk on brain development.
Better Dental Health
Breastfeeding can improve oral health by promoting the growth of jaw bones and improving the way the jaw is positioned. It can also reduce the risk of developing cavities and other dental problems later in life.
Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under one year of age. While the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, research has shown that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of SIDS. This is thought to be due to the immune-boosting properties of breast milk and respiratory problems in breastfed infants. Breastfeeding has also been shown to improve the baby’s sleep patterns, reducing the risk of SIDS.
How to Breastfeed and Proper way to Breastfeed
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for both mother and baby, but it can also be challenging for first-time mothers. Here are some tips for successful breastfeeding:
- Find a comfortable position: Experiment with different positions until you find one that is comfortable for you and your baby. Some popular positions include the cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, and side-lying position.
- Latch correctly: A proper latch is essential for successful breastfeeding. Your baby’s mouth should be wide open, with the bottom lip turned down and the top lip curled back, to ensure that the entire areola is in the baby’s mouth.
- Pay attention to hunger cues: Watch for your baby’s hunger cues, such as rooting, sucking on their hands, or making sucking noises. These cues indicate that your baby is ready to feed.
- Let your baby set the pace: Your baby will let you know when they are full. Do not force your baby to finish a feeding if they seem satisfied.
- Alternate breasts: Alternating breasts during each feeding can help to ensure that both breasts are emptied and can help to prevent engorgement or clogged ducts.
- Offer both breasts: Offer both breasts during each feeding, even if your baby only feeds on one breast. This will help to keep your milk supply balanced.
- Use breast massage: If you are experiencing engorgement or clogged ducts, using gentle breast massage can help to release the milk and promote circulation.
- Avoid using pacifiers: Pacifiers can interfere with the baby’s ability to effectively latch and can reduce the baby’s interest in breastfeeding.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential for maintaining a healthy milk supply.
- Seek support: If you are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding, seek support from a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding support group, or your healthcare provider.
It is important to remember that breastfeeding can take time and practice to get used to. Every mother and baby is different, so what works for one mother may not work for another. With the right support and perseverance, most mothers can successfully breastfeed their babies and enjoy the many benefits it provides.