One of the first decisions a new mum must make is whether to breastfeed. Breastfeeding exclusively, for the first six months is strongly recommended, but breastfeeding rates are still quite low.
If you are yet undecided, it is important to understand the benefits of breastfeeding for mum and baby, both physical and mental.
5 Breastfeeding Benefits for Mum
So, what about mum? There are quite a few benefits worth revealing.
1. Helps You Lose Weight
You burn extra calories when breastfeeding, which means it can help you lose weight faster. This is welcome news for any new mother who may be struggling with her weight. Breastfeeding is a natural and healthy way to start burning calories immediately after giving birth. Your body releases the hormone oxytocin when you breastfeed. This helps your uterus to contract and return to its pre-pregnancy size. This will help you get in shape faster.
2. Lowers the Risk of Depression
Shortly after childbirth, women are at risk of postpartum depression. It has been found to affect up to 15% of mums. You are less likely to develop postpartum depression if you breastfeed. This is because hormonal changes occur when you breastfeed, and these encourage bonding and maternal caregiving.
3. Reduces the Risk of Disease
If you breastfeed for more than one year it has not been linked to a 28% lower risk of ovarian and breast cancer, as well as reducing the risk of health problems such as heart disease.
4. Pauses Ovulation and Menstruation
If you breastfeed regularly, it suspends ovulation and menstruation. Perhaps this is nature’s way of making sure you leave ample time between pregnancies.
5. Saves Time and Money
Breastfeeding costs nothing at all and extraordinarily little effort is involved.
You do not have to buy formula or spend time making sure bottles are clean and sterilized. Your breastmilk is always ready to drink and at the right temperature.
5 Breastfeeding Benefits for Your Baby
1. Protects Against Illness
Breast Milk is the best food you can give your baby. It provides all the nourishment they need and is full of live ingredients such as white blood cells and beneficial bacteria.
All of these are going to help your baby fight infection, contribute to their normal healthy development, and prevent disease. That is not to say your breastfed baby is never going to get sick. When they do get poorly, however, there are protective components in your milk that help your baby to recover much faster than if they were being fed formula milk.
2. Provides Comfort
It has been found that breastfeeding when your baby is feeling upset helps to comfort and soothe them. When babies are being vaccinated, studies indicate that breastfeeding provides relief and reduces crying.
3. Breastfeeding and Premature Babies
If your baby is premature, your breast milk provides the best protection against many potentially fatal conditions. It is also likely that you will be able to bring them home from the hospital much earlier if they have been fed breast milk.
4. Breastfeeding and Your Baby’s Sleep
Breastfed babies can get back to sleep much quicker if they wake for milk during the night. This is because their body produces oxytocin when they are feeding, and this makes them sleepy when they have finished feeding. There are also hormones in your milk that help the development of healthy circadian rhythms.
5. Your Baby’s Brain Development
A study in the US found that young children who had been exclusively fed breast milk for at least three months had 20% to 30% more white matter in their brains. This is significant because the white matter connects different regions of the brain. It also transmits signals between these different regions. In the UK, a study of 16-year-olds who had been breastfed for at least six months as babies stood a better chance of getting higher grades in their exams.
Is Breast Pumping a Viable Option?
Pumping your breast milk offers many of the benefits of providing milk directly from the breast. However, there are some additional benefits worth mentioning. If you pump your milk, you can make a schedule that suits you. Get the timing right and you will be able to think about going back to work or freeing up more of your time.
If you pump your milk, you can split caregiving duties. Childcare duties can be balanced between parents, allowing the mother to get more needed rest. It is possible for breast milk to be given and taken on a donation basis.
If you cannot produce enough milk of your own, you could supplement your supply with milk from a donor. If you are undecided about whether to breastfeed or not, this article should give you some food for thought.
It is not something that suits everyone, but there are far too many benefits to ignore it without careful consideration.
This article was written by Lisa Corkery of O’Flynn Medical who are a leading supplier of Breast Pumps to the Irish and U.K market. Lisa has a vast knowledge of Breast Feeding and has seen first-hand the benefits it provides to both mother and baby.