Celebrating National Breastfeeding Month and International Breastfeeding Week
National Breastfeeding Month and International Breastfeeding week both occur in August, so Capital Women’s Care wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some of the benefits of breastfeeding.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months, before introducing any other food to their baby. After other foods are introduced after six months of age, it is recommended that mothers breastfeed in conjunction with other foods for at least six more months.
Women that are unable to breastfeed should not feel discouraged or shamed; it is still entirely possible to provide your baby with all of the nutrients they will need to grow through formula, breastmilk obtained through a milk bank, or a combination of both.
Breastfeeding boasts a range of physical, emotional, and other benefits for both mother and child; read our top five benefits list below:
The Top Five Benefits of Breastfeeding
1. Babies that are breastfed have stronger immune systems and less health issues
Your breastmilk changes properties as your baby grows in order to provide the exact nutrients that he or she needs. During pregnancy and immediately following birth, the milk you produce is thick and yellow, known as colostrum. Colostrum is rich in antibodies to help your newborn fight infections. After your colostrum changes to mature milk, it will still continue to change with your baby to provide the proper nutrients and antibodies.
Babies that breastfeed demonstrate lower risks of developing asthma, ear infections, diarrhea, vomiting, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), lower respiratory infections, and other conditions.
Breastfeeding also provides valuable skin-to-skin contact time for mother and baby, which promotes bonding, security, and boosts oxytocin levels.
2. Breastfeeding also provides physical and emotional benefits to the mother
In addition to providing health benefits to your baby, breastfeeding also benefits you, the mother. Breastfeeding has been shown to lower risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, anemia, postpartum depression, and type 2 diabetes in mothers. Breastfeeding also stimulates the uterus to return to its normal size after birth and promotes weight loss after birth, burning up to 500 extra calories a day.
Just as your baby will benefit from increased skin-to-skin contact and emotional bonding, so will you. Breastfeeding causes oxytocin and prolactin production in the brain, which causes stress relief, confidence, and calmness in nursing mothers.
3. Children that are breastfed may physically benefit for the rest of their lives
Your child will not only immediately benefit from breastfeeding; the health benefits will last them into later childhood, the teen years, and even adulthood. People who were breastfed are at lower risk to develop heart disease, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Children that received skin-to-skin contact and emotional bonding with their mother early in their lives are also less likely to develop extreme emotional and behavioral issues later in life. Mothers that breastfed also have the advantage of learning their baby’s cues to anticipate their needs, which benefit mother and child as the child grows.
4. In many cases, breastfeeding is easier than bottle-feeding
When traveling or out and about, breastfeeding is much easier than preparing formula. You will not need any additional supplies and your breastmilk is always the perfect temperature for your baby; it requires no extra prep work. For the same reasons, it is easier to breastfeed, rather than bottle-feed your baby if they wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
In the event of an emergency, breastfeeding is still a safe option. If you formula feed, you may not be access clean water. Breastfeeding means that you also will not need to access any additional feeding supplies that you may not be able to get to. As previously mentioned, breastfeeding will reduce the risk of your infant developing other health issues during any emergency, such as diarrhea or respiratory infection.
5. Breastfeeding helps you save money and is good for the environment
Mothers that formula feed may spend over $1,500 a year on formula and feeding supplies. Other than direct costs, you may spend more money on visits to the doctor for your baby, since breastfeeding is shown to have a myriad of health benefits. In turn, breastfeeding may mean less time taken off of work for parents, saving you time and money.
Additionally, unlike the bottles and formula containers produced by formula feeding, breastfeeding produces no plastic waste and is a completely renewable resource!
If you want to breastfeed or have questions about your health as a mother, reach out to the Capital Women’s Care team today. Our trained and compassionate staff are ready to help in whatever way you.