We learned via an article by Breastfeeding Basics that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for at least the first year of life. This may not be a realistic goal for all mothers but there are benefits to breastfeeding your baby for a few weeks to a few months.
Breastfeeding Basics lists these benefits:
Nursing your baby a few days after birth
- You provide your baby with a healthy dose of colostrum, often called the baby’s ‘first vaccine’. Colostrum helps protect your baby infection by “coating the baby’s intestinal tract and acting as a barrier to prevent the invasion of harmful bacteria.” It protects your baby from illnesses he or you may have been exposed to. It also provides nutrients!
- The protein found in breast milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk or formula. Babies are less likely to have digestive issues like gassiness, rashes and colics if they are breast fed.
Nurse your baby for 4-6 weeks
- Babies who are breastfed have lower rates of many illnesses, including digestive and respiratory problems, pneumonia and meningitis, and SIDS.
- Breastfeeding helps you recover from childbirth faster. Nursing allows you to sit for a long period of time, since babies need to be nursed often during their first few weeks. If you bottle feed, you are less likely to sit and more likely to have someone else close to you feed your baby. The article stated, “Think about it – mothers used to stay in bed or in the hospital for at least a week or two after giving birth – now they are up and running after a 24 hour hospital stay.”
Nursing your baby for for 3-6 months
- The article reported that, “Studies have found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for at least four months had half as many ear infections as formula fed babies.”
- Nursing helps you lose extra weight gained during pregnancy. Mothers who breastfeed lose more weight by the time their baby is 3-6 months than mothers who feed their babies formula. Breast milk production “mobilizes the fat you stored during pregnancy, and also uses up about 500 calories each day.”
Nursing your baby for 6 months
- The article stated that babies are less likely to suffer from allergies. They stated that “since at around that time, your baby’s intestinal tract begins to produce antibodies which coat his intestines and protect him from foreign proteins and allergens.”
- Studies have found that “nursing for at least six months has been shown to have protective effects against many illnesses, such as childhood cancers.”
Nursing your baby for 9 months
- Breast feeding has a great impact on your baby’s intellectual development. They stated that “breastfed babies score an average of 8 points higher on IQ tests than formula-fed babies, and this seems to hold true even when things like parent’s educational and socioeconomic backgrounds are factored in.”
Nursing your baby for a year or more
- Long-term nursing protects against ulcerative colitis, diabetes, asthma, Crohn’s disease, obesity, and high cholesterol in adulthood. Did you know that babies who are breastfed for a year or more are less likely to need speech therapy or have need braces later in life?
- Long-term nursing helps mom too! The article stated that “the longer you breastfeed over the course of your lifetime, the lower your risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.”
Now that you know the many benefits of breastfeeding your baby during its first year, why not take a breast feeding class? Community Well offers several classes for nursing mamas!
Drop-in to our weekly lactation clinics or take a breastfeeding preparation class to learn about the basic science of lactation and how breastfeeding works. Learn how to build a great milk supply, avoid discomfort, and make a plan for the first few weeks postpartum. Community Well also has FREE monthly breastfeeding info and support meetings with La Leche Leauge!
We know breastfeeding isn’t easy for every mom, so stop by The Well to learn how we can help!