There are so many benefits to breastfeeding and it’s not just your baby who’ll reap the rewards. “Breast is best” is something you may have heard, but sometimes it helps to know just how amazing your breastmilk is and the different ways it can protect your baby.
Breast milk protects your baby against many health conditions:
Chest Infections – Babies have a limited immune system and they can’t fight infections on their own so all of your infection-fighting antibodies are passed on through your breastmilk, helping to boost your baby’s immune system.
Tummy Upsets – Your breastmilk helps to coat the lining of your baby’s gut and contains enzymes that can kill harmful bacteria.
Ear Infections – While your baby is feeding they are building up the muscles that help drain the ears, reducing the risk of ear infections. These muscles are not developed as well when babies are bottle fed, as babies suck differently from a bottle.
Obesity – Unlike bottle feeding, breastfeeding allows your baby to satisfy their own appetite, an important skill that will last a lifetime! The very first milk you will feed your baby is called colostrum and is packed full of nutrients and antibodies, which unlike bottle feeding, doesn’t stretch your baby’s tummy more than it should. The fact that your breastmilk is constantly changing helps your baby recognise when to stop feeding and it helps them to learn to control their own appetite.
Formula milk is made from cow’s milk, which is designed to turn baby calves into big meaty cows, not ideal for your precious delivery! The milk is then chemically adapted to mimic the properties of breast milk but it can’t match the real thing. It contains more protein, which is why formula-fed babies tend to be heavier when they reach 12 months.
Childhood Diabetes – Some babies can react to the foreign proteins contained in formula milk, which can cause them to develop diabetes. Breast milk is genetically similar to your baby so doesn’t stimulate this reaction.
Allergies (asthma, eczema) – Your breast milk is unique and is an exact match for your baby, making sure that your baby doesn’t suffer any allergic reactions that can develop into eczema and asthma.
Benefits to You
As well as helping you to develop a strong bond with your baby, breastfeeding is great for your health and losing your baby weight.
Women who choose to breastfeed produce hormones that help the womb contract back to its original size more quickly, leaving them with a flatter tummy.
Breastfeeding mums also burn up to 500 extra calories a day, helping them to lose weight and feel great.
As well as losing your baby weight, choosing to breastfeed reduces your chances of developing:
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
Emotional wellbeing is also a big part of breastfeeding. The production of breast milk releases ‘love hormones’ making the bond between you and your baby even stronger and holding your baby close for feeds also helps to spread that loving feeling.
With your new arrival to keep you busy, saving time is one of the major benefits of breastfeeding. It’s free and readily available, with no need for sterilising equipment and bottles, leaving you to enjoy some well deserved ‘me time’.
It may not seem like it but breastfeeding benefits everyone in lots of different ways. Breastfed babies are less likely to become ill, saving the NHS money, and if you’re baby’s happy and healthy you’re less likely to be taking time off work and family life will be less stressful. Breastfeeding is great for the environment too, with no manufacturing and packaging making the world a nicer place for your baby!