You may be familiar with the old adage, "breast is best." While breastfeeding may not be the ideal options for every mom, there are certain advantages to nursing your baby. Here is a list of some of the ways breastfeeding can benefit you and your child.
Advantage 1 - Immunological Benefits
Studies have shown that babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life are less likely to develop ear and respiratory problems. Breastfed babies also had a lower incidence of gastrointestinal issues. The reason for this is that breast milk provides babies with key antibodies that help protect them from infection and disease.
Advantage 2 - Protection Against Allergies
Research suggests that the fatty acids found in breast milk may help prevent infants from developing food and/or respiratory allergies. Certain studies also suggest that babies who were breastfed were less likely to develop asthma and eczema.
Advantage 3 - Brain Development
There is a connection between breastfeeding and higher IQs. Studies show that babies who were breastfed six months or longer had an advantage over formula-fed infants.
Advantage 4 - Childhood Obesity
Because breastfed infants are fed on demand, they are taught to stop eating when they are full. So babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity and less likely to become obese adults. Studies also suggest that food preferences may be passed on during nursing. Since a breastfeeding mother must consume a nutrient rich diet, breastfed infants are exposed to healthy foods early on in life.
Advantage 5 - SIDS
Some studies have found a connection between breastfeeding and a lower incidence of SIDS. While there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim, scientists believe that breast milk helps combat the respiratory problems connected with SIDS.
Advantage 6 - Breastfeeding and Pre-Pregnancy Weight
Breastfeeding can help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly. Your body needs a lot of energy to produce breast milk. So you can burn a lot of calories just by feeding your little one.
Advantage 7 - Reduces Risk of Cancer and Osteoporosis
Research suggests that breastfeeding can reduce your risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Breastfeeding helps suppress your body's release of estrogen. Studies also indicate that breastfeeding may improve bone density and decrease your risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life.
Advantage 8 - Cost and Convenience
Babies go through a large amount of formula during one week and the price to feed your baby adds up as your baby continues to grow. Breastfeeding is a great way to cut costs during your baby's first months of life. Also, if you're breastfeeding, you don't need to worry about bringing bottles and bottle warmers with you wherever you go. You can supply your baby with all the nutrition they need without a huge hassle or a huge price tag.
Advantage 9 - Bonding
Breastfeeding offers you a unique way to bond with your little baby. In fact, studies have shown that an infant's suckling can actually release the hormone oxytocin that increases maternal affection and helps mothers build relationships with their newborns.
Breastfeeding is not for everyone. However, mothers who do choose to nurse their babies can look forward to the wealth of benefits that breastfeeding has to offer.