The Benefits of Breastfeeding

January 25, 2019

Breastfeeding produces a number of benefits for both you and your newborn baby, and it is widely encouraged by doctors, nurses, and other professionals throughout the medical world. In fact, in a 2012 statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics said:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.”—Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk

Of course, they’re not the only ones. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) dedicate numerous resources to educating mothers and promoting the practice of breastfeeding worldwide.

Here are some of the main reasons why breastfeeding a great and healthy decision for both mother and child.

Benefits for the Baby

Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of respiratory infection, gastrointestinal infections, SIDS, allergic diseases, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Celiac Disease, obesity, leukemia, and lymphoma. There is even some evidence that suggests that breastfeeding can aid in better neurodevelopment. It’s also very beneficial for premature babies because it contributes to their underdeveloped immune systems and lowers the chances of sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis.

And let’s not forget, your baby was meant to drink human milk! It’s made especially for them and comes packed with vitamins and nutrients that are necessary for proper growth and development.

Benefits for Mommy

Breastfeeding isn’t just a one-way street. Moms can reap numerous health benefits as well! Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, decrease postpartum blood loss, lower your chances of postpartum depression, and aid in the recovery of the uterus.

Exclusively breastfeeding on demand has also been shown to delay ovulation, which can aid mothers in spacing pregnancies. Please note, however, that using breastfeeding as a form of contraception is not 100% guaranteed to prevent conception. You absolutely can get pregnant while breastfeeding, especially if you supplement with formula. If you plan to use breastfeeding as a form (or as a part) of natural family planning, you should be sure to breastfeed exclusively.

Lastly, breastfeeding facilitates intimate, personal bonding time between you and your baby. Feedings aren’t strictly for nutritional purposes. They help strengthen the important connection between mother and baby.

A Special Note to Mothers

Breastfeeding is a wonderful and healthy thing, but it’s also a challenge. Babies feed multiple times a day, and they don’t care if it’s 2 pm or 2 am. Benefits aside, breastfeeding (especially exclusively breastfeeding) can take a serious mental and emotional toll on the mother.

Here at Purohit Pediatric Clinic, we strongly encourage any mother struggling with breastfeeding to seek support and encouragement from their spouse, friends, family, or support groups. Many hospitals across the country have some type of breastfeeding support, and the La Leche League has leaders and professionals available all over the world.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your baby’s nutritional needs are met. It’s suggested that mothers breastfeed for a minimum of 6 months, but you should feed for as long as you’re mentally and physically able, however long that may be. The decision is up to YOU. You are NOT a failure if you wean early.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding, or if you need a referral for a local support group, contact the Purohit Pediatric Clinic today!

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