The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom and Baby

Friday, July 05, 2013 1:00 PM

breastfeedingIn return for sweet smiles and abundant cuteness, babies ask only for love, affection, the right to be awake when you want to sleep and nourishment. What form that nourishment takes is up to you.

New mothers who are unable to breastfeed should not feel guilty because formula is an effective way to feed your baby and ensure he or she receives proper nutrition.  But, the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are many and exclusive breastfeeding for the first few months of a baby’s life is recommended. New moms should take note that many of the same benefits of breastfeeding can be achieved through a combination of breastfeeding and supplementing with formula.  

Ann Borders, MD, and Emmet Hirsch, MD, obsectrics/gynecology at NorthShore, share some of the valuable health benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk is nutritious and easy to digest. It’s the perfect combination of vitamins, fat and protein. It’s easy for a baby’s sensitive digestive system to break down, reducing constipation and gas.
  • Breast milk is an infection and disease fighter. It provides antibodies that help combat infection. Breastfed babies have fewer ear and respiratory infections. Breastfed babies have less risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies breastfed for at least six months are less likely to become obese as children and adults. It’s believed that breastfeeding is linked to lower rates of asthma, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer later in life. 
  • Breastfeeding is a bonding experience. It is extremely important for a mother and child to establish a secure bond in the first months of a child’s life. The physical closeness and contact of breastfeeding is an important opportunity for bonding. 
  • Breastfeeding saves money. Formula comes with a heavy price tag. Breastfeeding can save thousands of dollars a year. Add to that sum the potential long-term costs of healthcare for issues breastfeeding might help prevent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that families that follow breastfeeding guidelines save $1,200 - $1,500 in formula costs alone in the first year.
  • Breastfeeding burns calories. A woman who breastfeeds burns approximately 500 extra calories per day, making it easier to shift those extra pounds from pregnancy. That’s the equivalent of jogging for one hour. It also helps her uterus return to the size it was before pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding is healthy for mom too. Breastfeeding lowers a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancers. Breastfeeding has been linked to lower risk of postpartum depression. Some studies show that it could also lower her risk for osteoporosis. 

Did you breastfeed? What were the advantages/disadvantages for you? For more advice on breastfeeding from Ann Borders, MD, click here

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