What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?
According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, breast milk is thought of as nectar and breastfeeding is considered the primary method of giving love to your child. It is through breastfeeding that the child forms his/her first understanding of, and bond, with the mother – a relationship that will impact all that follows. Fortunately, breastfeeding does more than create a connection between mom and baby.
A mother’s milk is one of the most precious sources of vitamins for mammals. Breastfeeding assists in the development of an intricate immune system and most importantly, a healthy gastrointestinal tract, which houses 70% of our immune system. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula. The proteins in formula are made from cow’s milk, and it takes time for babies’ stomachs to adjust to digesting them. Moreover, by holding and breastfeeding your baby, you are teaching him/her how to regulate their body temperature through your breath and heart beat.
Tips for Breastfeeding:
- Breastfeed for at least 12 months.
- Breastfeed as soon as possible and often, and as long as your baby needs to.
- Don’t feel like you have enough milk? Breastfeed more often! Breast milk is supply and demand.
- Food before one is just for fun. It is encouraged to be exclusively breastfeeding for the first year.
The body develops a miraculous predecessor called colostrum, also known as liquid gold, during pregnancy and just after birth for the baby. This substance is super-rich in antibodies, protein, and minerals, all which lead the baby’s immune system off to the best possible start. The immune system is the body’s best defense mechanism for maintaining a healthy body; therefore colostrum promotes a strong immune system that is equipped to fight against cancer. Colostrum contains antimicrobial properties, which aids in reducing the frequency of infections and respiratory problems.
Breast milk changes as your baby grows. Colostrum changes into what is called mature milk. By the third to fifth day after birth, this mature breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding:
- Protects your baby from a long list of illnesses
- Protects your baby from developing allergies
- Lower your baby’s risk of SIDS
- Boosts your child’s intelligence
- Protects your child from obesity
- Reduce your stress level
- Reduce your risk of postpartum depression
- Reduce your risk of some types of cancers and diabetes
For more information about the health benefits, common questions, and learning to breastfeed, visit womenshealth.gov or breastfeedingusa.org, or speak to your local Birth Doula or Lactation Counselor.
Birth Center of St. Pete and Breath of Life Women’s Health Center are great local resources.
Tampa Bay Birth Network is a great support and educational resource.