It Benefits the Baby
The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breastmilk help protect babies from illness. This protection is unique and changes every day to meet your baby’s growing needs. Research shows that breastfeeding your baby can reduce the risk of:
Your first milk is liquid gold.
- Leukemia (during childhood)
- Obesity (during childhood)
- Ear infections
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Lower respiratory infections
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Type 2 diabetes
Called liquid gold for its deep yellow color, colostrum is the thick, first milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is very rich in nutrients and includes antibodies to protect your baby from infections. Colostrum also helps your newborn's digestive system to grow and function. Your baby gets only a small amount of colostrum at each feeding because the stomach of a newborn infant is tiny and can hold only a small amount.
Your milk changes as your baby grows.
Colostrum changes into mature milk by the third to fifth day after birth. This mature milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow. It looks thinner than colostrum, but it has the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs for healthy growth.
It Benefits the Mother
Breastfeeding helps a mother's health and healing following childbirth. Breastfeeding leads to a lower risk of these health problems in mothers:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Breastfeeding may also help you lose weight. Many women who have breastfed their babies said it helped them get back to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly, but experts are still looking at the effects of breastfeeding on weight loss.
It is a Better Choice
Formula can be harder for your baby to digest.
For most babies, especially premature babies (babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), breastmilk substitutes, like formula, are harder to digest than breastmilk. Formula is made from cow's milk, and it often takes time for babies' stomachs to adjust to digesting it.
Your breastmilk changes to meet your baby's needs.
As your baby gets older, your breastmilk adjusts to meet your baby's changing needs. Researchers think that a baby's saliva transfers chemicals to a mother's body through breastfeeding. These chemicals help a mother's body create breastmilk that meets the baby's changing needs.
Life can be easier for you when you breastfeed.
Breastfeeding may seem like it takes a little more effort than formula feeding at first, but breastfeeding can make your life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. You do not have to buy, measure, and mix formula. And, there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! When you breastfeed, you can satisfy your baby's hunger right away.
Not breastfeeding costs money.
Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year. As your baby gets older, he or she will eat more formula. But, breastmilk changes with the baby's needs and babies usually need the same amount of breastmilk as they get older. Breastfed babies may also be sick less often, which can help keep your baby's health costs lower.
Breastfeeding keeps mother and baby close.
Physical contact is important to newborns. It helps them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers also benefit from this closeness. The skin-to-skin contact boosts your oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps breastmilk flow and can calm the mother.
The Lactation Consultants at The Women’s Hospital are here to support mothers and help them reach their breastfeeding goals. Contact a consultant about any questions or concerns you have at 812-842-4239
Information borrowed from www.womenshealth.gov.