Every expectant mama has hear the phrase “breast is best,” and while you may have heard the phrase, you may be wondering why doctors around the globe have been making this claim for decades.
Less ear infections? Yep. Less risk of developing asthma? Absolutely. A higher IQ? You betcha! Other than being an awesome way to develop a wonderful bond with your baby, breastfeeding provides all of these benefits, plus so many more. However, with so much public breastfeeding bashing going on (I cringe every single time I see a Facebook post about a breastfeeding mama being scorned for feeding her baby in public, or when I see a mom feeding her baby while hiding behind the cover of her car because she’s afraid she will harassed,) you may be wondering if breastfeeding your baby really is the right option for you.
Not only is nursing your baby completely natural (yes, it’s the sole purpose of breasts, despite how sexualized they have become!), but it also provides some pretty fantastic benefits for your baby, for you, and maybe even for your whole family!
Here’s a look at 15 pretty cool facts about breastfeeding that will not only make you want to nurse your baby even more than you already do – or sway you to, if you are hesitant (like I was) – and tell those naysayers to shove their judgment where the sun doesn’t shine.
15 A Healthier Baby
Breast milk gives your baby’s immune system a major boost.
Countless researchers have found that breastfed babies have stronger immune systems, which helps those little ones fight off tons of bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, such as:
- Ear infections
- Bacterial meningitis
- Respiratory tract infections
- Bacterial meningitis
- Infant diarrhea
- Urinary tract infections
- Common colds and flus
Your baby’s immune system is virtually non-existent when they are first born, which makes them more prone to these types of illnesses. By breastfeeding your little one, you are giving his immune system a leg up for fighting infections that could potentially be devastating.
14 Improved Health in the Long-Term, Too!
As a mom, you want to set your child up to have the healthiest, happiest life possible, even long after she leaves your nest.
Breastfeeding not only strengthens your child’s immune system while she/he is a baby, but it can also help him/her avoid developing chronic conditions later on in life. Science has proven that breastfed babies are less likely to develop conditions like celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and Chron’s disease. Talk about powerful stuff! The milk that is. So why not give it you have it!
13 Lower Risk of Childhood Obesity
In case you haven’t heard, childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels. Poor food choices, like fast food, chips and soda, aren’t the only reason for this epidemic; overeating is also a major factor that contributes to childhood obesity.
Studies have shown that preschool-aged children who are breastfed were not only more likely to make healthy food choices, but they are also more likely to be able to tell when they are full, which means they don’t overeat. Children who are bottle-fed, including those who were fed pumped breast milk, were less able to determine when they are full, which leads to overeating.
12 You’ll Lose that Baby Weight
Want to shed those extra pounds you put on while you were pregnant? Breastfeed!
Every time you nurse your baby, you burn calories. In fact, mamas who breastfeed burn between 300 to 500 calories a day! Why? – Because your body needs energy to create breast milk, and that energy comes from calories.
Breastfeeding moms should increase the caloric intake to establish and keep up their milk supply. Eating a well-balanced diet that is comprised of healthy fats, and you may very well increase your chances of slimming down post-baby.
11 Improved Health for Mama
In addition to possibly helping you lose weight, breastfeeding can help your health in other ways.
Research has found that mom’s who nurse are less likely to develop chronic and potentially life-threatening disease, including
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Heart disease
And, the longer you breastfeed, the better the health benefits for you. Women who nurse their little ones for 8 years have an almost 0% risk of developing breast cancer. Yet another health benefit: If you are breastfeeding a girl, you could actually reduce her risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25%!
10 Faster Post-Partum Recovery
When you nurse your baby, your body releases oxytocin, which helps your uterus contract. These contractions help to reduce blood loss after delivery. Additionally, those contractions help your uterus return to its pre-delivery size faster. In fact, it only takes about six weeks for a breastfeeding mama’s uterus to return to its original size, whereas a non-breastfeeding mama can expect her uterus to return to its normal size within ten weeks. For some moms, the bounce back can take even longer, depending on your body, the type of pregnancy you had and the labor process - so if breastfeeding can help heal, sounds like a good idea.
9 It’s Economically-Friendly
Breastfeeding is far more economical than formula feeding.
It costs approximately two to four thousand dollars a year to feed a baby formula (yes, it really is that expensive!), so if you are looking for a way to save some money and keep your budget in check, nursing can totally help you achieve that goal. Breastfeeding is free! And when you have a baby it'll be hard not to notice the price of things because for one, there's so much to buy and two, baby products can be overpriced. Just think of how much diapers will cost you!
8 It’s Ecologically-Friendly
Want to do your part to reduce your carbon footprint and maintain the environment for your little one? Breastfeeding can help you do that!
The milk from dairy cows is used to create formula, and they are a major contributor to global warming. Believe it or not, their manure and the gas that they produce – both by way of belching and flatulence – put tons of methane, a seriously detrimental greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true!
7 A Custom Diet for Your Baby
As your baby grows, his nutritional needs change. In order to meet those needs, your breast milk actually changes. For example, colostrum, the ‘premilk’ that your body first produces, is loaded with antibodies that are intended to protect your newborn. Formula can’t do that! Breastmilk naturally changes as your baby's needs change and as your body changes. It's the nature of things. It just happens without you even having to worry if you are giving your baby the right formula at the right time. The progression of your baby's eating habits will happen at a more natural pace.
6 A Calmer, Happier Baby
Want a calmer, happier baby? – Of course you do! Well, breastfeeding can help you achieve that!
The milk that you produce contains substances that help to promote calmness and sleep in your baby, which is one of the reasons why little ones are often groggy and appear more content after they are breastfed (other than being full.) Remember, a calm baby means extra mommy time to catch up on sleep and do other things that might otherwise be difficult with a baby who is fussy or always crying and unhappy.
5 A Calmer, Happier Mama
Being a mom can be stressful. If you’re looking for a way to be more relaxed, calmer and happier overall, breastfeed your baby!
When you breastfeed your baby, you are creating a powerful bond with her. That bond helps you calm down and relax. Not only that, but you are also taking time out of your busy, crazy day to spend quality one-on-one time with your baby, which will definitely put you in a better mood!
4 Reduces the Risk of SIDS
Not much is known about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS,) but scientists believe there may be a link between this devastating phenomenon and a baby’s airways.
Breast milk is kinder to your baby’s airways. Since they aren’t exposed to the allergens that they may be exposed to in foreign milk (formula,) they are less likely to develop common colds and respiratory-tract infections (see above,) which keeps their airways open and makes it easier for them to breath. Additionally, breast milk helps the systems that control breathing to develop. Because of these two factors, scientists believe that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS in infants.
3 Your Baby has a Better View
When babies are born, they are very nearsighted, which means that they can only clearly see objects that are about 8 to 15 inches away. When you breastfeed your little one, he is closer to you, which means that he gets a better view of your face, because guess what? – your face is only about 8 to 15 inches away from him!
Nursing your little one means that he can get a better visual of your facial features, which encourages facial recognition and makes him more content. When he locks eyes with you, take a moment to appreciate the true bonding moment that is occurring.
2 Baby Gets to Taste Many Different Things
Breastfeeding can help to expand your baby’s palate. Whatever foods you eat, your breast milk is slightly tinged with that flavor. For example, if you eat spinach (which is a great source of vitamins and nutrients for you and your baby,) and your baby will taste a bit of the flavor from this veggie!Formula, on the other hand, only ever has one taste.
If you want to make it easier for your baby to transition to solid foods, and you want him to be a more adventurous eater, breastfeeding is the way to go!
1 Breast Milk can Benefit the Entire Family
It may sound crazy, but the benefits of breast milk can actually extend beyond mama and baby.
Breast milk contains tons of antibodies, vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial for everyone!
Breast milk can be beneficial for a variety of ailments, including:
- Diaper rash
- Cradle cap
- Ear infections (for people other than the nursing baby)
- Rashes and conditions that cause itchy skin
- Clogged tear ducts
- Cuts and scrapes
- Sore throats
- The common cold and flu
And that’s just a small list of the things that breast milk can help with!