BLOGS from St. Anthony
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, a time to celebrate the valuable benefits of breastfeeding and continue working to ensure that women have the support they need to breastfeed. Health and good nutrition begin with breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Policy on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has major health benefits for both baby and mother.
Coined as nature’s perfect baby food, breast milk provides optimal nutrition for infants. It contains healthy enzymes and immunity-boosting antibodies that scientists are not able to replicate. It is easily digested, readily available, and has the perfect amount of nutrients. Read on to learn how breastfeeding helps the baby as well as how breastfeeding helps the mother.
Benefits for Baby
Less Chance of Obesity. According to studies, obesity rates are 15-30% lower in breastfed babies than in formula-fed babies. Each month of breast milk intake can reduce your baby’s risk of obesity by 4%. This can be due to a couple of different factors:
- Breastfed babies develop higher amounts of healthy gut bacteria that can affect fat storage.
- Breastfed babies have more leptin in their systems, a key hormone that regulates appetite and fat storage.
- Breastfeeding teaches babies to self-regulate their milk intake. They learn to eat only until they’re full which helps them to develop healthy eating patterns.
Easy Digestion. Breast milk is easier for a baby’s body to break down than formula so they experience less diarrhea, constipation, and stomach upset.
Less Risk of SIDS. Formula-fed infants account for twice as many SIDS cases as breastfed babies.
Conditions & Illnesses. Breastfeeding has been shown to protect against several conditions and illnesses, including:
- Colds, viruses, staph, strep, and ecoli infections
- Upper and lower respiratory illnesses
- Ear infections
- Allergies & eczema
- Spinal meningitis and diabetes
- Certain childhood cancers including Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Intestinal disorders
Higher IQ. Although the research is still inconclusive, studies do point toward higher IQ scores later in life for babies who were breastfed. Research supports the finding that the fatty acids in breast milk are brain boosters.
Closer Connection. The skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby during breastfeeding is a comforting and reassuring connection for a newborn that cannot be replicated.
Benefits for Mother
- Studies show that women who breastfeed have less risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life.
- Because milk production burns about 300-500 calories per day, nursing mothers tend to have an easier time losing their pregnancy weight.
- Breastfeeding can lower the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. When a woman is pregnant and lactating, the body absorbs calcium much more efficiently. This can make bones more dense post-pregnancy.
- Many mothers appreciate how breastfeeding delays menstruation. It is normal to have your period return between 6-8 months after delivery, sometimes even a year.
- The closeness you develop with your baby through nursing is priceless.
- Beyond purchasing a breast pump, breastfeeding is essentially free! This makes for great cost savings on formula, which can cost $134-$491/month.
- If you go back to work after maternity leave you will have fewer sick days and miss less work. Because your baby is healthier from breastfeeding, you will not need to use your sick days to stay home with them.
- Breastfeeding helps to cultivate great relationships with other moms. Whether sharing breastfeeding tips, discussing parenting or nighttime feedings, nursing helps women to bond through positive postpartum relationships.
Whether you're seeking post-menopausal care, prenatal care, or scheduling your daughter’s first gynecology appointment, our experienced health providers are here to answer all of your questions and make you feel comfortable. St. Anthony Regional Hospital offers gynecology and obstetrics care for women of all ages in west-central Iowa. Please call (712) 792-3581 to schedule an appointment or visit our website for more information.
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