The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding because your breast milk helps your baby grow healthy and strong. Benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk also protect your baby from illnesses. Scientific studies have shown that breastfeeding benefits you too.
Here’s a list of the most important breastfeeding benefits for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding benefits for your baby
1. Provides perfect infant nutrition: Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow.
2. Boost baby’s intelligence: Various researchers have found and concluded that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding significantly improves cognitive development.
3. Lower baby’s risk of SIDS: It is found that breastfeeding – either exclusively or partially – is associated with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
4. Boost baby’s immune system: Scientists think that immune factors such as secretory IgA (only available in breast milk) help prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to a baby’s intestinal tract.
5. More effective vaccine: Research shows that breastfed babies have a better antibody response to vaccines than formula-fed babies.
6. Less risk of cancer: Breastfeeding can decrease your baby’s risk of some childhood cancers.
7. Long-term protection：Breastfeed your baby can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
8. Reduces risk of a long list of illnesses:
- Lower respiratory illnesses
- Ear infections
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Childhood leukaemia
- Cardiovascular disease in adulthood
- And more…
Breastfeeding benefits for you
1. Stronger bones: Research shows women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
2. Reduce stress level and risk of postpartum depression：Many women report feeling relaxed while breastfeeding, that’s because nursing triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin released while nursing also helps your uterus contract after birth, resulting in less postpartum bleeding.
3. Fewer problems with weight: Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster.
4. Less time off work: Your baby will be ill less often, so that means fewer sick days for you.
5. Lowers your risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
In a word, breastfeeding benefits both you and your baby.