Breastfeeding: Benefits for Your Baby – and You

BreastfeedingIf there’s one thing you can do help your baby thrive from infancy through childhood and beyond, it’s breastfeeding. Here are some of the reasons why breastfeeding is so important for your baby – and you:

Breast milk is the perfect food for infants  – And your body makes its own supply!

  • Colustrumis the thick, yellow breast milk you first make during pregnancy and just after giving birth; known as “liquid gold,” it’s very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby
  • By the third to fifth day after you give birth, colostrum changes into mature breast milk, which has the ideal amount of fat, sugar, water and protein to help your baby continue to grow
  • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, especially for premature infants (the protein in formula is made from cow’s milk, and it takes time for a newborn’s stomach to get used to digesting it)

Breast milk protects your baby from illness  –  Human breast milk offers a level of protection against illness that no formula can match. In fact, research shows that babies who are exclusively breastfed for six months (exclusive breastfeeding means no solid food, formula or water)are less likely to develop:

  •  Ear infections
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Respiratory illnesses
  •  Stomach viruses
  •  Meningitis

Breastfeeding protects your baby from SIDS

– Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); in fact, exclusive breastfeeding at one month of age has been shown to cut SIDS risk in half. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends breastfeeding for as long as possible to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Breastfeeding’s protection lasts beyond the breastfeeding stage

– Studies show that breastfeeding can reduce a child’s risk of developing certain childhood cancers (scientists believe antibodies in breast milk help strengthen a baby’s immune system). Breastfeeding also may help children avoid conditions that occur later in life, including:

  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Breastfeeding helps protect moms

–  Breastfeeding can reduce stress, as well as the risk of postpartum depression and certain cancers:

  • Breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes a  feeling of relaxation when a woman nurses her baby
  • Research has shown that women who don’t breastfeed or stop breastfeeding  early have a higher risk of postpartum depression
  • The longer women nurse, the more they’re protected against breast and  ovarian cancer (nursing for at least a year has the most protective effect against  breast cancer); this may be because breastfeeding suppresses estrogen  production, and this hormone can “feed” these types of cancer

Give your baby the best-possible start in life

We understand that while breastfeeding is natural, it may not come naturally to all women, especially first-time moms. That’s why we offer free, comprehensive breastfeeding classes every month [LINK to Breastfeeding Class page], taught by a professional lactation consultant (and mother of two).

We hope you’ll commit to breastfeeding your baby, and are here to help you in whatever way we can. Questions? Simply contact us.