Breastfeeding has amazing benefits. From making your baby far less likely to develop certain problems to benefits for the nursing mother, there truly are some wonderful reasons to consider exclusively breastfeeding your baby.
Exclusively breastfeeding means to only breastfeed, typically for at least six months without giving your baby any food, formula, or water. The word exclusive is just that- babies only drink breast milk and nothing else. While to some this may feel natural, others may feel a little strange not giving their baby anything else, but you will soon realize that breast milk is all your baby needs!
If you are going to have a baby and plan on exclusively breastfeeding, then bravo! If you are thinking about it, do more research. Talk to a lactation consultant (the hospital you deliver in should be able to provide you one during your stay).
Join a group of new moms and listen to their experiences. While breastfeeding is not always possible for everyone (for various issues, some beyond your control), you will find that even just a couple of weeks of breastfeeding can give your baby enormous benefits.
Choosing to exclusively breastfeed your baby is a wonderful decision to make. Your baby will receive benefits in many different areas, and you will find you benefit as well! Check out the list below for all the impressive benefits from exclusively breastfeeding your baby.
15 Incredible Bonding Experience
Many brand new mothers report a incredible bonding feeling with their newborn the first time they breastfeed their baby. It is natural. It is what our bodies are designed to do, and what baby looks for. It is a moment mothers will always remember when they look down at their sweet new baby and realize this baby wants them, and that they are able to provide her with everything she needs.
By exclusively breastfeeding, mothers and their baby will spend countless hours together, just the two, in a way no one else will ever be able to experience.
If attempts at exclusively breastfeeding a baby are not going to plan, such as low milk supply or baby's difficulty latching, that does not mean mothers will not get this benefit of being able to bond with their baby. Just by trying to exclusively breastfeed, or just doing it for even a week, mothers will form that wonderful bond with their newborn.
14 Less Likely to Develop Asthma or Allergies
Think of your breast milk almost like a super potion. It is made up of things that just simply cannot be replicated in a laboratory. One of those things is called Immunoglobulin A (known as IgA). It is only found in breast milk and is believed to be the reason why many exclusively breastfed babies do not develop asthma or allergies.
Babies who are formula fed seem to develop more allergies than their breastfed counterparts. Researchers think it is due to IgA, which protects baby's intestines which could otherwise become inflamed leading to a host of problems such as allergies.
13 Faster Recovery Time for Mother
Healing time after your baby is born can vary depending on type of delivery, labor complications, and whether you tore or had an episiotomy. However, by exclusively breastfeeding your newborn, you can speed up your recovery time! The benefits start immediately too. Your body works to recover as quickly as possible from the moment you begin to breastfeed your baby in the hospital.
New mothers who breastfeed their babies often have a much shorter postpartum recovery time. Many mothers stop bleeding after only a short time and their uterus works to shrink back to normal. In fact, every time your baby nurses, your uterus does extra work to recover and return to its normal size.
12 Lower Rates of Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, are extremely scary in newborns. Babies who are exclusively breastfed have a much lower rate of being hospitalized due to a respiratory infection. They are far less likely to obtain an infection simply because they are drinking breast milk.
This benefit of exclusively breastfeeding is really amazing. The nourishment you provide to your own baby can keep them healthy.
Breast milk provides your baby with an absolutely incredible boost to their immune system, thanks to that amazing IgA. It is due to this that researchers and doctors believe babies who are exclusively breastfed have as much as a 75% lower risk of getting a respiratory infection, many of which can be damaging or even fatal to a new baby.
If a baby does obtain an infection, they tend to recover faster with less complications.
11 Improved IQ Scores
Many studies have shown that babies who are exclusively breastfed actually end up with higher I.Q.s than babies who are not breastfed. There seems to be a connection between breastfeeding and cognitive development. In fact, the longer a baby is breastfed, the higher they score in tests as they get older.
Sure, there is some debate to this claim, but if exclusively breastfeeding your baby can help make him smarter, well that is just another reason to consider doing it!
Researchers say there are two main reasons why they believe breastfeeding leads to higher intelligence. First, bonding with your baby by sharing breastfeeding moments actually boosts their brainpower. Amazing! And second, and perhaps the main reason, is that breast milk contains fatty acids that are essential to brain development.
10 Decreased Risk of Breast Cancer for Mom
As women, we hear about breast cancer. In fact, you may know someone who has had it. It is one thing that all women are fearful of obtaining. Cancer is scary. There is a way to give yourself some extra protection, and that is by breastfeeding your baby exclusively. It is apparent that doing so lowers a woman's risk of getting this terrible disease. The longer you breastfeed, the greater protection you have, as well.
It is not really known why mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer. It could be due to the way your breasts change when you are breastfeeding. By exclusively breastfeeding, your breast tissue structurally changes.
Also, when you are nursing, estrogen production is suppressed, which is another reason doctors believe your risk of breast cancer is lowered when breastfeeding.
9 Less Gastrointestinal Problems
There appears to be a link between gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, and babies who are not breastfed.
Exclusively breastfed babies do not seem to be inflicted with these uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous, problems. However, if you do breastfeed your baby, be aware they may only poop only once a week or so, but that is normal!
Again, thanks to IgA for protecting the little one from getting any of these horrible problems. That wonderful ingredient only found in breast milk protects baby's intestines. In fact, by exclusively breastfeeding, mothers may be protecting their child for the long term. There seems to be a link between adults with diseases, such as Crohn's, and not being breastfed as an infant.
8 Reduces Weight Gain for Baby and Mom
Want to lose some baby-weight? Breastfeed! If mothers exclusively breastfeeding, they are nursing around the clock. Each time they are feeding their baby, they are actually burning calories (talk about a work out!) Breastfeeding works to stop women from gaining weight (as long as they are also eating healthy) and helps to work off the extra pounds they gained from pregnancy.
In addition to that fantastic news, breastfeeding a baby exclusively can reduce the risk of the baby becoming overweight into childhood, and even adulthood. This is quite interesting, and there are many reasons why researchers believe it to be true. Breast milk contains less insulin (which stimulates fat growth) than formula.
Formula fed babies also seem to gain weight faster than breastfed babies during those precious first few weeks after being born. Also, leptin, a hormone that regulates fat and appetite is more prevalent in breastfed babies, who tend to stop nursing once they are full (although many continue to latch on for the comfort).
7 Decreased Risk of Ear Infections
Ear infections and children seem to go hand in hand. Well, that does not have to be the case with your little one. While it may seem like loads of kids are getting sick with ear infections, there is a segment of the population that is at a much lesser risk of getting ear infections, babies who are exclusively breastfed.
By mothers breastfeeding their baby for only a short time, the risk of infections in the baby's ear is cut in half. Exclusively breastfeed longer, at least six months, and it is almost cut in half again! We all know ear infections hurt, and when babies get them they do not understand why they hurt.
The properties in amazing breast milk drastically reduce the likelihood the child will suffer from an ear infection.
6 More Cost Effective
Formula is expensive, even if you buy during sales and use coupons.
Another benefit of exclusively breastfeeding your baby is that it is free! If you are able to exclusively breastfeed for an extended period of time, you will save hundreds of dollars, maybe even thousands!
Sure, there are some expenses to breastfeed, you will need nursing bras, nursing pads, a breast pump if you want one (check your insurance as many cover breast pumps now), but those expenses add up to nothing compared to the cost of formula.
Now, you might feel like a milk wagon, always on call when baby is hungry, but remember it is not costing you a penny to feed your little, and as we have seen, the benefits are endless.
5 Lowers Stress Levels with Mother
Postpartum depression- feelings of sadness, irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia, unable to bond with your baby- is something that many moms-to-be worry about, especially since we hear frightening stories of what mothers have done as a result of postpartum depression.
There seems to be a correlation between rate of postpartum depression and and women who did not breastfeed, or stopped breastfeeding very early on.
There is science to this. When a woman breastfeeds her baby, the hormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin gives you a relaxed feeling. Many mothers who were able to successfully and exclusively breastfeed their babies report feeling stress free and relaxed when they nurse.
The high amounts of oxytocin in women who exclusively breastfeed is also correlated with lower blood pressure. Remember though, if you feel depressed at any time postpartum, whether you are breastfeeding or not, speak to your health care professional, they are there to help you.
4 Reduces Risk of SIDS
If there is anything that keeps new moms up at night (besides breastfeeding, of course!) it would be worrying about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Such a very scary thing to happen to any baby.
Exclusively breastfeeding your baby can cut the risk of SIDS in half. It is highly recommended to breastfeed your baby as long as possible to continue to reduce the chances of them succumbing to SIDS.
As we know, breast milk is powerful. While formula companies try their best to mimic all the goodness that is in breast milk, it is just not possible to duplicate what comes naturally from a new mother. Something as awful as SIDS, where babies die for no apparent reason in their sleep, can put your mind at ease perhaps just a little if you know you are doing the best you can to breastfeed.
3 Much Less Likely to Develop Gluten Allergies
Gluten free this, gluten free that! Seems like gluten free is almost a fad diet now.
Well, someone with a true gluten allergy will tell you it is no fad. Celiac disease is horrendous for the people who are stricken with it. Basically, anything they eat with gluten (which is a lot of stuff!) causes them to experience unbearable intestinal pain (due to damage to the intestinal lining), gas, diarrhea, fatigue, low blood count, and more.
Imagine a baby or young child with this type of allergy?
If a baby is breastfed during their first exposure to gluten (think first time they eat cereal), their risk of developing a gluten allergy is reduced by 50%. All because of breastfeeding!
2 Reduction in Childhood Cancers
Exclusively breastfeeding a baby can actually lower the risk that they will end up with a childhood cancer. Cancer is beyond horrific and no one wants to see their child suffer through a devastating disease. By breastfeeding, mothers can help to protect their baby for the long term, and reduce the chance of them being diagnosed with cancer as a child.
This is something else that researchers are not exactly sure why children who were breastfed are less likely to end up with cancer, but agree that it has to do with the power of breast milk. The antibodies in breast milk not only nourish our babies but protect them as well.
1 Incredible Closeness Between Mother and Baby
The bond between a mother and baby can never be duplicated, whether you are breastfeeding or not. But by exclusively breastfeeding, you develop an incredible closeness that is not even explainable until you experience it yourself.
The baby knows where her milk comes from. And when mothers are that source, mom is the one she wants. Who knows, simply by exclusively breastfeeding, even for only a short while, moms may form a close relationship that follows both mother and child throughout their lives. Now wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?