It is well known that breastfeeding benefits your baby in many ways. It also benefits you! Let's take a look at all the ways that breastfeeding benefits those involved.
Benefits for Mom
There are medical, physical, and practical benefits of breastfeeding for mom.
Although it can be difficult to learn how to breastfeed, once you have become a professional milk provider, you need only pack yourself and a receiving blanket. No need for packing around baby bottles with nipples designed for your baby's age--you grew your own specialty nipples. There's no need to worry about cleaning all those many bottles at the end of the day. No need for late night store trips to get more formula or worrying about the temperature of the milk you're giving your baby, or finding water that is safe for baby.
Benefits for Mom
Immediately after birth, breastfeeding benefits mom by encouraging uterine involution through increased contractions. What this means is that when the baby is on the breast, oxytocin is produced by mom. This oxytocin affects the uterus by encouraging contractions, which can be painful, but are beneficial as they encourage the uterus to close off the open network of blood vessels from where the placenta was attached while also encouraging the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size. This involution results in a reduced risk of post partum hemorrhage and increases the tonicity of the uterus.
The World Health Organization found a link between extended breastfeeding and the reduced risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer. Breast cancer is also found to be a reduced risk when moms breastfeed.
Breastfeeding your newborn can also reduce the chances of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, theumatoid arthritis, and can help regulate moods immediately postpartum. Fancy that!
Being successful with breastfeeding can save families on average, $1,733.75 (Hamm, 2013)! According to data compiled by Bonyata, the upward amount of money spent on formula can reach $3,163.86 (2016). That doesn't include things like bottles, nipples, bottle cleaning tools, warmers, and so forth.
Paired with the family's financial benefits, there are also global benefits. Breastfeeding can reduce childhood and meternal illnesses and in reducing or preventing these illnesses, we can reduce the cost to our medical systems. Let's take a better look at these ailments below.
Benefits for Baby
Reducing Illnesses in Baby
Formula is a great alternative to breastfeeding when breastfeeding isn't a good fit for mom, baby, or physical happenstance. With that said, it can upset baby's tummy and cause diarrhea when finding the best formula for your baby. Infant diarrhea of non-breastfed babies can cost $291.3 million in health care costs, annually (Zeretzke, 2005). As you may have heard, breastfeeding can reduce the instances of otitis media--ear infections--in newborn babies; otitis media costs the health care system roughly $660 million annually (Zeretzke, 2005).
Along with a reduction in these relatively common ailments, breastfeeding has been linked to a reduced risk of childhood rheumatoid arthritis, intestinal diseases, urinary tract infections, type one diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, respiratory infections, pneumonias, and meningitis, to name a few (Zeretzke, 2005). There might also be a link between a reduction in cancers in infants, an increase in intellegence, visual acuity, and overall health. Winning!
A link between a reduction in anemia and allergies was also found in breastfed babies in their first year of life. It was also linked with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, which affects almost 7,000 families in the US each year, alone.
Immunoglobulin A is passed to baby through breastmilk, help defend baby from pathogens. Breastmilk provides a passive immunity to certain viruses and bacteria during the first 6 or so months of life.
Benefits for the Family
There's no doubt that breastfeeding can be a struggle in the begining. Sometimes, the struggle remains throughout the first year. This is an incredible challenge for moms and also for dads as they sit by not knowing how to support their partner. Rest assured that you are not alone with the struggle and helping eachother through this first parenting concern can be a bonding experience between mom and dad. Dad, keep mom comfy and support her in her emotional need. Mom, don't be afraid to ask dad for a glass of whatever or that receiving blanket that is just out of your reach.
As oxytocin surges through your body while baby is latched on, you will discover a bonding moment with each nursing session that is uncomparable to anything else you've felt. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone as much as it is a hormone that allows for lactation.
Although it can be hard for dad to not be able to feed baby until you've established a good nursing supply, marvel in these moments as your body is the only thing nourishing that new baby of yours. How special!