A newborn turns their head to one side, then the other, opening and closing their tiny mouth, rooting around for the breast.Before long, the little one will begin to wail, unless they comfortably begin suckling either a bottle or their mother’s breast. Infants all come with this strong suckling reflex because it’s how they’ll get nourishment.
There are two basic options for feeding newborns: breastfeeding and formula. Sometimes, parents choose to use a combination of both breastfeeding and formula. It’s not always possible or practical to choose breastfeeding. But, when parents do choose to breastfeed,it offers many benefits. What are they?
The mother’s body makes perfect food for her baby. Including the optimal mix of protein, fat, and vitamins, breast milk is nourishing for baby, helping them grow and gain weight at a perfect rate.
Thanks to breast milk’s nutritional excellence, many medical professionals including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of an infant’s life.
Because breast milk contains live antibodies from the mother, baby benefits from an improved immune system. This results in fewer illnesses for baby. Specifically, breastfeeding results in babies with less diarrhea, constipation and a lower rate of other gastrointestinal conditions. Furthermore, babies that breastfeed have fewer colds, ear infections and hospitalization.
Everyone wants to see their baby happy and healthy. Breastfeeding helps keep babies healthy, which is one important way to ensure your baby is happy! Sick babies are fussy and uncomfortable. With breastfeeding, you can give your baby the gift of health by strengthening their immune system.
Breastfeeding also offers benefits for mama, as well. Specifically, breastfeeding mothers experience lower rates of breast and ovarian cancers. That’s great news!
Some studies also show that breastfeeding might reduce your chances of getting osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women disproportionately.
Breastfeeding involves lots of cuddling and skin-to-skin contact. In addition, breastfeeding causes the release of calming hormones including oxytocin and prolactin. These hormones can lower stress. Oxytocin is also known as the “love” hormone, because it is involved in feelings of affection and connection. This is great for promoting bonding between mother and baby.
These psychological and emotional benefits may also be related to a reduced rate of postpartum depression in breastfeeding mothers. As a mom, your mental health is important, so any advantages are great.
When you breastfeed, you have one less thing to worry about packing in your diaper bag. For your baby under 6 months old, all you need are your breasts to nourish your baby. Breast milk is always ready, sterile and ready to serve at the right temperature.
With breastfeeding, you spend time nursing your baby, but you don’t have to prepare bottles, wash them, sterilize nipples, or make sure the milk is the perfect temperature. You also avoid purchasing formula. However, you will need to make sure you’re getting about 500-700 extra calories every day to keep your supply up.
Overall, for many mothers, breastfeeding is easy. It requires zero preparation, zero cleanup, and it’s perfect for baby.
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful journey for mother and baby. However, although it’s something humans have been doing for thousands of years, it doesn’t always come naturally. It can also feel scary if you’re a first time mom! If you need support and help with breastfeeding, either pre or post birth, make sure you speak with a lactation consultant or midwife who can help improve your experience! Some women experience pain because their baby hasn’t yet achieved the correct latch or because of engorging. A professional can help resolve these and other breastfeeding issues.
If possible, give yourself and your baby the wonderful gift of breastfeeding! The benefits can’t be topped.
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