Top 10 Benefits Mommy and Baby Gain from Breastfeeding

As a popular saying goes, “Breastfeeding is good for the baby.” But the right one should have been, “Breastfeeding is good for both the mommy and the baby,” highlighting many mutual benefits it brings.

Main benefits of breastfeeding

breastfeeding benefits

Ensures a healthy baby, well-protected from viruses and bacteria

Breastfed babies are less prone to pneumonia, colds, and viruses because breast milk contains a good amount of antibodies, especially the first milk or colostrum, which provides several antibodies and high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA). [1]

Mothers exposed to bacteria or viruses also start producing antibodies that are then passed on to the baby during feeding. New moms with the flu will provide babies with pathogen-fighting antibodies, so antibodies from the mother and breast milk combine to make a healthier baby.

Reduces the risk of disease and provides long-term protection for the baby

Apart from providing antibodies, breastfeeding also reduces the risk of babies developing chronic conditions. This is especially true for babies that receive breast milk exclusively.

Two or more months of breastfeeding reduce middle ear infections by 50%,[2] respiratory tract infections by up to 72%,[3] sudden infant death syndrome by 50%,[4] intestinal tissue damage by around 60%, allergic disease by up to 42%,[5] the risk of Type 1 Diabetes by up to 30% and type 2 diabetes by up to 42%,[6] and gut infection by 64% up to two months after breastfeeding has stopped.[7]

There’s also a 20% reduction in the risk of childhood leukemia for babies breastfed for six months or longer.[8]

Breast milk provides babies with the ideal nutrients they need

Breastfed babies are not only healthier because of the antibodies from the milk, but also because of all the nutrients. Colostrum, in particular, is high in protein, packed with beneficial compounds and low in sugar.[9]

It’s abundant during the first days after birth. Now you know why health authorities strongly recommend that a mother sticks to exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months.

With the exception of Vitamin D, breast milk has all the vitamins and minerals your baby needs for their growth and development.

They’re delivered in the right portions, too. And when the baby’s needs change, the composition of breast milk also changes.

Breast milk prevents obesity, promotes healthy weight

Breastfeeding has been known to prevent child obesity and promote healthy weight gain. In fact, breastfed babies have an obesity rate that is 15% to 30% lower than formula-fed babies.[10] Why is this the case, you ask?

  • Breastfeeding helps in the development of different gut bacteria that can affect fat storage.
  • Breast milk provides more leptin, a key hormone that regulates fat storage and appetite.
  • Breastfeeding helps develop healthy eating patterns because breastfed babies self-regulate their milk intake.

Breastfeeding is known to make children smarter

Breastfed babies are said to show better brain development than formula-fed babies. Studies suggest that this may have something to do with the physical intimacy, eye contact and touch that happens between mother and child during breastfeeding.[11]

Studies also showed higher intelligence scores for breastfed babies and a lower risk of developing behavior and learning problems as they grow older.[12]

Ensures stronger bones for mommy

According to infant-nutrition expert and Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D. (the author of “Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession”: “When a woman is pregnant and lactating, her body absorbs calcium much more efficiently”, which is why the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis is lower in mothers who breastfeed their babies.

Promotes better healing post-delivery for mommy

When a mother nurses her baby, oxytocin is released, which helps the uterus contract, reducing blood loss post-delivery.[13]

Continued breastfeeding will also help the uterus return to its normal size faster because it encourages uterine contractions, causing it to shrink at about six weeks. Mothers who don’t breastfeed would have to wait up to 10 weeks for their uterus to contract.

Breastfeeding helps mommy burn calories and lose weight

Babies are not the only one who gets to enjoy a healthy weight during breastfeeding. Nursing moms also burn up to 500 calories a day, helping her lose weight almost effortlessly.[14]

Breast milk contains 20 calories per ounce, so imagine how many calories a mother loses when she breastfeeds up to 20 ounces a day.

It is important to note, however, that lactating women may experience hormonal changes that will increase appetite and fat storage for milk production.

This is why breastfeeding mothers either lose or gain weight the first three months after delivery, experience increase in fat burning after three months of lactation, and then lose more weight around three to six months after delivery.

This is why experts recommend proper diet and exercise, whether lactating or not.

Breast milk is cheap and saves time

Breast milk is free; the formula is not. For as long as a mother is lactating and breastfeeding exclusively, she wouldn’t need to spend money on milk for her baby.

Moreover, a nursing mom wouldn’t have to buy bottles, and spend time cleaning and sterilizing them before mixing milk every time a baby needs to feed.

Not to mention the need to keep bottled milk at the right temperature and find ways to warm bottles while on the go. On the other hand, breastfeeding mother only needs a private place to do it.

Lowers risk of depression and disease in mommies

About 15% of mothers can have postpartum depression shortly after childbirth, but those who breastfeed seem less likely to experience the problem compared to those who do not breastfeed or wean early.[15]

This has something to do with the oxytocin produced during birth and breastfeeding that seems to have long-term anti-anxiety effects.

The same hormones affect specific brain regions that promote relaxation and nurturing, encouraging bonding in the process. This partly explains why breastfeeding mothers are less likely to neglect their maternal responsibilities than those who do not breastfeed.

In addition, breastfeeding provides mothers with long-term protection against several diseases, including cancer. Women who breastfeed for more than 12 months in their lifetime have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer by 28%.

For each year they breastfeed, there’s also a 4.3% decrease in the risk of breast cancer.[16] Women who breastfeed for a year or two over their lifetime also have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and high blood fats.

While feeding breast milk to your child is essential, not all mothers can breastfeed, especially those who are HIV positive or have active tuberculosis.

On the other hand, mothers who have health problems like diabetes or have had breast surgery can still breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is a skill you will get better at as time goes by. The first two weeks will be the hardest, but the key is never to give up.

You can always seek the help of doctors, nurses, lactation, specialists if things aren’t going as planned. Plus, there’s the wisdom from family, friends, and breastfeeding support groups.

Breastfeeding Tips For First Time Moms

It is advisable to learn about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Yes, there is a huge difference between reading and practical application, but knowing some things about the process can be a huge help.
Purchasing breastfeeding equipment, such as breast pads, breast pumps, nipple cream, and nursing bras can help make breastfeeding easier. Extra pillows are handy as well.

Breastfeeding can be a challenging process.
Here are some tips to help you out:

1. Make sure you’re in a comfortable position.

Feeding takes a while so surround yourself with lots of pillows.

2. Bring your child close to your breast.

This offers much more comfort than bringing your breast to your baby. Use one hand to support the baby’s head while the other supports your breast.

Encourage your child to open their mouth by tickling their lower lip with your nipple. Check if your baby is sucking and swallowing.

3. Let your child dictate the breastfeeding pace.

Your newborn needs to be fed every two to three hours for the first few weeks. Look out for signs of hunger, such as lip movements, restlessness, stirring, and sucking motions.

Let your child nurse from one breast until it feels soft. Burp the baby then offer the other breast. A still hungry child will suck on the teat, otherwise, offer the second breast for the next feeding.

You can also pump your other breast if your baby only nurses from one during the first few weeks. Doing so relieves your breast of pressure as well as protects the supply of milk.

4. Bring your baby into your room for sleeping.

It is recommended for babies to sleep in the same room as their parents for at least six months or until their first year. Doing so lowers the risk of SIDS as well as makes feeding a lot easier.

Although they are sleeping in the same room, they shouldn’t sleep in the same bed. You cannot risk suffocating your child by accidentally rolling over them.

To avoid such problems, make sure they have a crib or bassinette of their own; if not, any surface designed for infants will do.

5. Introduce the pacifier after breastfeeding has been established.

A pacifier is a lot different from a breast. Giving your child one before establishing a breastfeeding routine interferes with the process.
Try to wait until three to four weeks after birth to introduce a pacifier.

6. Observe changes in your breasts and your baby.

A successful breastfeeding involves your child sucking; it shouldn’t feel like your child is pinching or biting your nipple. Your breasts will also feel softer and emptier after feeding.

Your child will also gain weight after the continued breastfeeding process. Their stools will also look loose, seedy, and yellow. Plus, they will need around six wet diapers a day.

7. Look after your nipples.

Allow the milk to dry naturally on your nipple after each feeding because it has a soothing effect. You can also pat your nipple dry if you have to be somewhere else.

Use bra pads to prevent leaks between feedings. Keep in mind to change them often.

When you take a bath, make sure not to let a significant amount of soap, shampoo, or any other cleanser get into contact with your nipples. In case your nipples are dry or cracked, use lanolin after each breastfeeding session to soothe your nipples and help maintain moisture.

8. Ensure a healthy lifestyle.

It is important to keep fit while pregnant, but fitness measures should also be carried over after birth. Make sure to subscribe to a healthy diet, drink lots of water, and get as much rest as you can.

Breastfeeding is a challenging process, one that takes a lot of your time. It can be tiring one as well.

But you shouldn’t get discouraged and you can always ask for help when things aren’t progressing as expected.

Foods that Can Increase Your Breastmilk Supply

Newborns require frequent feedings, and often new Moms don’t have a great milk supply, especially if their delivery has required a lot of pain medications and anesthesia.

If you get home from the hospital, and your milk supply still hasn’t come in great, then wait a few days and keep trying to feed your baby and pumping.

It may take a few days to a week or so for your full supply to come in, and in the meantime, you can try adding some of these foods and drinks to your daily meals to increase your breast milk supply.

  1. Water

    Water intake is key to producing enough breastmilk to feed your brand new little one. If you aren’t drinking enough water, then your body won’t be able to produce breastmilk.

    According to most doctors, people walk around chronically dehydrated all of the time. Unless you are actively trying to drink water, then you probably are a little dehydrated right now. You should be drinking up to 8 glasses of water per day, especially if you desire to breastfeed.

    Drinking an adequate amount of water per day can really bump up your breastmilk supply because it allows your body to work properly. If you hydrated, then your body will be able to produce more and more breastmilk for your new baby.

  2. Oats

    For some reason, oats are a great source of fiber and energy for you and your milk supply. Oats can help increase your milk supply if you eat them frequently. All you have to do is add oats to your daily meals and you will notice a difference in your milk supply.

    Oatmeal every morning is a great way to incorporate healthy fiber and energy into your diet. Plus, oatmeal can also help you lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure under control after your delivery.

  3. Garlic

    Garlic is a wonderful spice that not only will boost the tastes of your favorite foods but will also boost your milk supply. This spice has been used for many centuries to help women increase their milk supply.

    All you have to do is add a few cloves of garlic to your daily meals, which is very easy to do. If you don’t like the taste or the smell of garlic, then you can buy garlic capsules at any pharmacy and try taking those for your milk supply.

  4. Carrots

    Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, which is a derivative of vitamin A. Breastfeeding moms are in high demand for beta-carotene, so carrots are a great way to increase your milk supply.

    Carrots also are a wonderful source of healthy fiber and carbohydrates, which will boost your energy and keep you full longer. Add a few carrots to your diet each day with veggie dip or hummus to help boost your milk supply and to stay energetic and full throughout the day.

  5. Nuts

    Nuts are a great snack that is portable and full of good, healthy fats and calories. Even if you are running around your house in full Mom mode, you can always stop for a second to grab a handful of nuts to keep you full. Nuts that are high in unsaturated fats are a great way to give your breastmilk a fact-filled, delicious flavor that will help your newborn grow and thrive.

    If you are going to use nuts to help boost your supply, then look for low sodium or unsalted options whenever possible to keep your blood pressure in check.

  6. Ginger

    If you suffered from morning sickness throughout your pregnancy, then there’s a good chance that you may still have a few ginger-related products around your house. Ginger candies, ginger ale, and pure ginger can all help quell morning sickness and increase your blood supply.

    You can use pure ginger in foods such as stir fry and curry, or you could just sip on some ginger ale and eat a few ginger snaps to keep your breastmilk supply abundant.

All of these foods and much more are a great way to ensure that you can have a great supply of breastmilk for your newborn baby.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful time for your new baby and it can help you and your new baby bond. Incorporate a few of these foods into your diet and watch as your supply grows.


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One Response

  1. Lucina Care June 22, 2018