Maternal Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding provides an amazing bonding experience between mother and baby. It provides without question the best nutrition for baby.  Many people do not realize that breastfeeding is also extremely beneficial towards the health of the mother.

Benefits to the Breastfed Infant

  • They have fewer illnesses. If they do get sick, the effects are milder.
  • They have fewer ear infections.
  • They are less likely to be admitted to the hospital during their first year.
  • They are less likely to die of SIDS. Statistics reveal that for every 87 deaths from SIDS, only 3 were breastfed.
  • If breast fed for over a year, their risk of developing diabetes is cut in half.
  • They smell better. Unlike the stinky stools of a formula-fed baby, breastfed babies have a less offensive buttermilk-like odor.
  • They have better skin. Breastfed babies have a softer, smoother feel.  The skin of formula-fed babies tends to be rougher with dry patches. Researchers report that the subcutaneous fat in breast and formula milk actually has a different composition.
  • They have better vision. Studies comparing breastfed and formula-fed infants show that visual development is more advanced in breastfed babies. The presence of DHA in breast-milk may be one of the reasons for this. DHA is one of the prime structural components of the retina of the eye.
  • They have healthier brains. Studies show that children that were breastfed have higher IQ’s and do better in school. This is due to the nutrients in breast-milk, which have recently been found to enhance brain growth.
  • There are elements in human milk that destroy Ecoli, salmonella, shigella, streptococcus, pneumococcus and many other bacteria.

Benefits to the Breastfeeding Mother

  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer. Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25 percent. The more months or years a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer.
  • Reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. One of the reasons for the cancer-fighting effects of breastfeeding is that estrogen levels are lower while milk is produced. It is thought that the less estrogen available to stimulate the lining of the uterus and breast tissue, the less the risk of these tissues becoming cancerous.
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Non-breastfeeding women have a four times greater chance of developing osteoporosis than breastfeeding women and are more likely to suffer from bone fractures in the post-menopausal years.
  • Not only is breastfeeding good for mother’s body, it’s good for her mind and emotional well being. Studies show that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression than formula-feeding mothers.
  • Helps the uterus contract after birth to control postpartum bleeding
  • The milk-producing hormone pro-lactin has a relaxing effect and stimulates maternal instincts.
  • Promotes postpartum weight loss. On-going milk production burns calories, which helps with weight loss after pregnancy. Half of the calories needed to manufacture milk is pulled from fat stores. You can burn from 500 – 1,500 calories per day just by producing milk.
  • Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive. When women breastfeed exclusively, there is a less than 2% chance of pregnancy when menses has not returned, and the baby is less than 6 months old.
  • Breast-milk is free, reducing or eliminating the cost of formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that a breastfeeding mother will save around $900 during the first year of breastfeeding.

Breast-milk’s influence on health is more important than researchers have ever thought. New studies of the composition of breast-milk show that it carries substances that are critical to the optimal development of many systems in the body. This early development may very well affect the progress of many diseases throughout life.

Photo by Kakapo31


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