It is recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization to exclusively breastfeeding a new baby for the first six months. Of course, some moms cannot breastfeed or choose to raise their baby using formula, and that is perfectly fine! All that matters is that the baby is safe and healthy but read on to find out more about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the natural way for a mother to feed her baby from birth. Mothers and babies are designed for it! Mother's milk provides optimal nutrition for a baby and it's very easy to digest. A breastfeeding baby's diapers won't even smell bad while he's still exclusively nursing! It also helps his digestive system form properly and improves his immune system, making him less likely to develop allergies. Babies who nurse even have a lower risk for SIDS or colic.
Breastfeeding is cost effective; it's free! It works on supply and demand, so the mother's body produces it as needed: no waste! If an emergency occurred, and grocery stores were unavailable, a nursing mother would still be able to provide food for her baby. Many people don't consider this life-saving point!
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="697"] Via Women's Health[/caption]
It's a Bonding Activity
Breastfeeding is a comfort for both mother and baby. It's the perfect way to bond. The colostrum (the substance produced in the first few feeds) smells and tastes like amniotic fluid, so a baby who has just gone through the drama of birth is calmed and feels at home when she begins to feed. When the baby crawls up for her first feed, her feet massage the mother's body, helping her deliver the placenta. When she starts feeding, hormones are released that help this process even more. Nursing continues to be a time of connection for mother and baby. When she grows older doesn't want to be held as much, nursing is a way to reconnect and relax.
It's a Natural Contraceptive
A mother who nurses day and night, without going longer than four hours between feeds, is unlikely to ovulate and therefore won't be able to get pregnant. This is a natural protection from the body, as it knows that mom is busy with one baby and not ready for another. Just remember not to rely on this method after the first six months or if your menstrual cycle returns.
If you encounter struggles with feeding or milk production, don't give up! And don't be afraid to contact a lactation consultant if you're really struggling on your own.