There are few parenting decisions as polarizing as how to feed your baby. Everything you read or see online, or hear from your doctor and family and friends, doesn’t do much to make it easier, either.
But it must be emphasized that however you choose to nourish your child–whether you’re doing formula from Day 1 or exclusive breastfeeding, or purely pumping with no latch, or a little bit of all–it’s absolutely your choice to make.
While the opinions and personal experiences of your nearest and dearest do matter, it’s your physical and mental health, your chosen lifestyle (and how much you’re willing to adapt it), and the parenting style you find yourself jiving with the most, that should ultimately inform your decision.
That being said, it’s still best to make informed decisions. So if you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, this list of breastfeeding benefits for both you and your baby should help paint a clearer picture.
You’re going to want to hold on to these when the going inevitably gets tough as well, because any mom who’s endured breastfeeding or pumping can tell you it isn’t as simple or intuitive as its advertised to be–but at the end of day, the whole experience is worth its weight in (liquid) gold.
BREASTFEEDING BENEFITS FOR BABY
Breast milk is a uniquely-formulated substance that science has yet to crack (or perfectly replicate) in terms of composition. It contains just the right blend of proteins, enzymes, and antibodies for your rapidly growing newborn. In addition, the act of breastfeeding fosters a closeness and bond that also offers its own set of benefits.
Less chances of skin allergies and stomach upset.
Breast milk is easily digestible, unlike soy- or cow protein-based formulas that can cause skin and stomach problems in especially-sensitive babies.
Less incidence of respiratory and ear infections, illness due to viruses, and UTIs.
Doctors concur that breastfed babies generally have stronger immunity than formula-fed babies, with the latter presenting doubled or even tripled chances of contracting pneumonia and ear infections at some point in infancy.
Less risk of SIDS.
There is much to still be learned about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or crib death, but researchers have a made a connection that breastfed babies are less likely to succumb to it. There are only half as many SIDS cases as there are formula-fed ones.
May contribute to a higher IQ.
Preliminary research does suggest this, though of course more investigation needs to be made in order for it to be conclusive. Findings report that breastfed babies present higher IQs once they reach school age, regardless of upbringing or socio-economic status.
Helps babies maintain a healthier weight and avoid obesity.
Satiety is easier to track with direct breastfeeding, unlike bottle-feeding formula which can lead to overfeeding and excessive weight gain.
Helps keep babies calmer and adjust to the “outside world” easier.
Skin-to-skin contact with mom while staying on the breast helps calm and soothe fussy newborns.
BREASTFEEDING BENEFITS FOR MOM
It’s certainly a sacrifice–producing milk can take its toll physically and mentally, and making lifestyle adjustments to make room for latching on demand or to maintain a pumping schedule is another thing altogether–but you best believe its not just baby who gets all the good out of breastfeeding. Mothers enjoy some perks, too.
Fosters a closer relationship with your baby.
The constant skin-to-skin contact and the hormones released to sustain lactation helps new mothers foster a strong and deep relationship with their babies. Many mothers report lesser incidences of postpartum anxiety and depression, and gain a sense of confidence and competency when they see their babies thriving on their milk and communicating cues.
Helps you physically bounce back post-delivery.
Breastfeeding releases hormones that help contract your uterus and aid its return to pre-pregnancy size and shape. It also burns a lot of calories, helping new mothers shed their baby weight safely and effectively without having to compromise their diets.
Helps lessen risk for osteoporosis and certain cancers.
Some studies have shown than mothers who breastfed their babies had less chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Also, calcium absorption is optimal when lactating and breastfeeding, which doctors say helps women avoid osteoporosis later in life.
Saves you some cash.
Having a baby is not cheap, and moms are constantly looking to control their budgets. While breast pumps and nursing paraphernalia aren’t inexpensive, breastfeeding is still more cost-effective than buying formula weekly.