Breastfeeding Benefits: Why it is Valuable for both Mom and Baby

Breast milk is loaded with protein, vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, enzymes, antibodies, calories, water, hormones, and white blood cells that your newborn needs. If you are a new mother contemplating whether or not to breastfeed your baby, this article helps you to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends breastfeeding exclusively for six months, after which complementary foods should be introduced, with continued breastfeeding for one year or longer. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding babies for up to 2 years and beyond.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Babies

The benefits of breastfeeding for babies include:

  • Breast milk has a high nutritional value: It has the perfect mix of protein, fat, and vitamins. Colostrum, the first milk produced after birth, is rich in proteins and antibodies, promotes growth, and boosts immunity. It helps the newborn’s immature digestive tract develop, readying it for the time when the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk after a few days.
  • Breastmilk reduces the risk of several diseases and illnesses: The essential antibodies present in breast milk help the infant fight diseases and bacterial and viral infections. Breastmilk lowers your baby’s risk for diseases and illnesses such as respiratory illness, colds and infections, allergies, eczema, diabetes, bowel disease, middle ear infections, gut infections, childhood leukemia, and more.
  • Breastfeeding can prevent obesity: Studies show that breastfed babies are less likely to experience obesity later in life. This may be due to the presence of higher amounts of beneficial gut bacteria and leptin (a hormone that regulates appetite, food intake, and body weight) in breastfed babies than babies who are fed formula.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers

The benefits of breastfeeding for babies include:

  • Helps with losing pregnancy weight: Breastfeeding mothers tend to burn extra calories during lactation, increasing their chances to lose pregnancy weight compared to mothers who formula feed.
  • Lowers your risk of several diseases, including ovarian and breast cancer: Studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer and also ovarian cancer. Additionally, mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk for several diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduced risk for depression: New mothers can often develop Postpartum Depression (PPD) shortly after childbirth. Some studies show that breastfeeding mothers seem to have reduced chances of developing PPD than mothers who either wean early or do not breastfeed. If, as a new mother, you see any signs of PPD, contact your doctor.

Breast Milk Donation

Unfortunately, all mothers cannot produce enough milk for the newborn. This happens due to several reasons, including insufficient glandular tissue, hormonal problems, medication, etc. Some mothers choose to go through a milk bank if they have trouble producing milk. Various communities and hospitals collect donated breast milk, which is tested, screened, and pasteurized before being fed to an infant in need. Infants who can benefit the most from donor breast milk include:

  • Premature Babies – Giving donated breast milk to premature infants instead of formula reduces the risk of diseases and infections.
  • Babies Battling Infections – Breast milk can be nutritious and immunity-boosting to infants in neonatal intensive care, especially those fighting life-threatening diseases and infections.
  • Infants Born to Diabetic Mothers – Instead of formula, infants born to diabetic mothers can be fed donated breast milk if their mothers experience delayed milk production.
  • Adopted Babies – Through medication and hormones, breastfeeding is possible for some adopting mothers who have not been pregnant. However, if the mother is unable to do so, donated breast milk can be used by adopted parents to ensure their babies are getting all the protection, immunity, and development benefits associated with breast milk.

At North Atlanta Women’s Care, we understand that pregnancy is one of the most memorable and crucial stages of a woman’s life. Our doctors and medical staff can provide the best possible pregnancy and delivery care for you. You can talk to your gynecologist or medical provider at North Atlanta Women’s Care if you have any questions about breastfeeding.

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North Atlanta Women's Care

North Atlanta Women’s Care specializes in complete women's health care and is the preferred source of comprehensive obstetrics and gynecology services for many women in Johns Creek, Georgia, and the greater Atlanta area.

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