Over 80% of American moms choose to breastfeed their newborns. Though it’s a common method in feeding infants, understanding the short and long-term health benefits can be overwhelming – especially as a new mom who may already be inundated with a lot of post-birth information.
Breastfeeding provides a broad spectrum of health benefits for not only the baby, but the mother, too. Releasing an abundance of nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, and other properties, breastfeeding fosters healthy physical and mental development to meet your baby’s needs.
Your body is ready to go with exactly what you need to properly breastfeed your baby. That doesn’t mean that you will innately know what to or how to do it right. That is absolutely okay. There may be a learning curve but you will adjust and learn how to get your baby to naturally latch on when they are hungry. It will take time and patience, but having the right knowledge and the support of your obstetrician will take you far.
Though it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of a baby’s life, and at least until two years of age, this decision is personal and can only be made by you.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Empowering women and advocating for their health, especially as new mothers, is a benefit that reaches beyond the individual. Breastfeeding is a matter of public health because of the link to cancers and other chronic medical conditions. It also reduces certain risks in the infant and enhances the long-term life of the child.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby
- Nutrition – A mother’s milk supplies every necessary nutrient the baby needs for their first six months of life. The milk even changes over time to meet the growing, developmental needs of the baby.
- Antibodies – Live antibodies made by the mother’s own immune system enter the milk to help fight off bacteria and viruses she and the baby have been exposed to, resulting in a stronger immune system for the infant.
- Healthy weight – Breast milk protects against obesity and promotes a healthy weight gain as it continues to change composition to provide more nutrients as the baby grows.
- Lowered risks – Exclusive breastfeeding protects against diseases like diabetes, cancer & lowers risk of asthma, leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), eczema, respiratory infections, and diarrhea.
- Intelligence – Studies show that breastfed babies typically receive a higher nutrient content, resulting in better brain development and higher IQs later in life.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mother
- Healthy weight – Breastfeeding allows the mom to burn extra calories each day and sooner return to their pre-pregnancy weight.
- Uterus contraction – Oxytocin released by the mother’s body during feedings aids in the uterus contracting to return to its previous size.
- Stress reduction – Breastfeeding produces hormones that soothe, calm, and make the mother feel generally more positive.
- Emotional bonding – Skin-to-skin contact helps the mother and baby bond and form an deep emotional connection.
- Lowered risks – Breastfeeding provides protection against depression, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other long-term issues.
How Can My Obstetrician Provide Support During Breastfeeding?
Your obstetrician at Women’s HealthFirst will support you and your baby during breastfeeding, providing the necessary patient education, management of complications, and guidance through best practices. We also have an on-site Lactation Consultant to educate and prepare you for success in feeding your newborn. Partnering with you, we help you navigate any challenges you may face like troubles with milk supply, pain management, and nursing position. No matter what, we work with you to create a solution that works, and we will help you adjust as your feeding journey ensues.
Give your baby their best start at healthy development. Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it seems. We have the people and resources to put you and your baby at an advantage. For more information, call Women’s HealthFirst at (847) 808-8884 or request your appointment now. We have five locations near Chicago, Illinois, to serve you. Established patients are encouraged to visit the convenient online patient portal to request an appointment, message our team, update their records, and more.