Advantages to Breastfeeding your Baby
Advantages for Your Baby
After birth, nursing keeps you and your baby biologically connected. Nursing provides emotional comfort, and it is the ultimate form of bonding between mother and child through skin-to-skin contact.
Breast milk is sanitary, and it is always the right consistency and temperature for your baby. There are no bottles to carry and sterilize, and no worries about toxins leaching from baby bottles.
Because breast milk is easy to absorb, your baby’s digestive system does not have to work overtime to break down food, as it does with formula. This can mean less gas, softer stools, and a more comfortable baby.
Your breast milk protects your baby from environmental threats like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Your immune system recognizes an illness-causing agent and produces a specific immune defense against that particular threat, which then transfers to your baby during nursing.
This process is fast-acting. Within a couple of hours of being exposed, the proteins in your milk combine to form protective antibodies to send your baby what he needs for protection against the illness. These antibodies are anti-inflammatory, which means they fight the swelling, fever, and pain associated with infections.
Advantages for Mothers
There are also physical benefits to nursing. Breast-feeding causes the uterus to contract, which reduces the blood flow after birth and begins the process of post-labor healing. It suppresses ovulation and menstruation, acting as somewhat of a natural birth control.
However, nursing is not a dependable form of birth control because ovulation can start any time and fertilization can occur. As your baby reaches five or six months old, nursing can help return mothers to their pre-pregnancy weight by burning an additional 500 calories per day.
A study published in the May 2009 issue of the Journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that mothers who breast-feed have significantly lower rates of certain cancers, including breast, endometrium, and ovarian cancer. Nursing mothers were also shown to have lower rates of osteoporosis. Mothers who breast-fed for one year had lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
Breast-feeding gives mothers the convenience of traveling or feeding at night without the additional task of planning and organizing bottles and formula. You can feed your baby at any time or place without having to worry about how to prepare something for him to eat.
Breast-feeding is free food for your baby. According to Consumer Reports, the cost of formula-feeding is about $2,000 in the first year. Plus, breast-fed babies have higher levels of antibodies and get sick less, which translates into fewer medical expenses and fewer work absences for parents.