Each mother has personal reasons they choose to breastfeed their baby. With so many compelling reasons for breastfeeding your baby it is hardly necessary to choose favorites. As a way to get to know me better I have highlighted my top 15 reasons to breastfeed. These breastfeeding benefits really drive home what motivates me to keep breastfeeding even when the going gets tough.
Here is my list! I would love to hear about yours as well.
1. Breastfeeding Is Recommended By UNICEF And The World Health Organization – The World Health Organization in collaboration with UNICEF state in their “Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding” that “Breastfeeding is an unequaled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. There after, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production”.
2. Breast Milk Has The Perfect Composition Of Carbohydrates, Fat And Protein – Infant formula is just that, a formulated attempt to create a composition as close to breast milk as possible. Why choose the imitation? Breast milk is dynamic. Not only are there different types of breast milk during a single breastfeeding session but breast milk also differs from feeding to feeding based on a mother’s diet and to accommodate the child’s needs. There is no way formula can compete with that. The American Dietetic Association states “human breast milk provides optimal nutrition to the infant with its dynamic composition and the appropriate balance of nutrients provided in easily digestible and bio-available forms.” The American Association of Pediatrics issued a statement on breastfeeding saying that “Human breast milk is uniquely superior for infant feeding and is species-specific; all substitute feeding options differ markedly from it. The breastfed infant is the reference or normative model against which all alternative feeding methods must be measured with regard to growth, health, development, and all other short and long-term benefits.”
3. Babies Digest Breast Milk More Easily Than Formula – Cow’s milk has twice as much protein compared to human breast milk. This means formula-fed babies get more protein than they need. Formula fed babies are heavier than their breastfed counterparts. To rid of the excess protein in the formula fed babies diet they excrete it resulting in an increased number of dirty diapers. Breastfed babies are able to utilize almost all the protein in human breast milk.
4. Breastfeeding Helps Shrink Uterus After Birth – I feel a little superficial that this made my top 15 list. I know I am not alone. Most of the women I speak to about motherhood worry about how it will change their bodies. Will they be able to get their svelte figures back? Rest assured the baby’s suckling on a mother’s breast causes uterine contractions that will help the uterus to shrink more quickly to it’s pre-pregnancy size.
5. Breast Milk Provides Immunity To Disease – Breast milk gives babies antibodies from the mother to help fight disease as a result breastfed babies get sick less. An estimated 80% of the cells in breast milk are macrophages. Macrophages are cells that kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Mothers produce antibodies to what ever disease is present in their environment, making their breast milk custom-designed to fight diseases their babies are exposed to. Less illness not only makes a happier baby but it also saves time and money by reducing the number of doctor’s visits and co-pays.
6. Breastfed Babies Are Healthier – Parents of breastfed children statistically take less sick leave as breastfed children are healthier compared to formula-fed children.
7. Breastfed Babies Have Higher I.Q’s – Breast milk increases brain and cognitive development. Formula no matter what the marketing gurus try and tell you can’t compete on the same level.
8. Breastfeeding Facilitates Bonding Between Mother And Baby – Babies need to be held and breastfeeding is one of the best ways to bring your baby close to you. Oxytocin is released in the mother’s body during breastfeeding which bonds the mother and child and stimulates maternal behavior. Oxytocin encourages the release of milk and uterine contractions (see number 4).
9. Breastfeeding Promotes Weight Loss – This is another reason for breastfeeding that makes me feel a bit self serving. Is it really manipulation if it is a win-win for everyone involved? Breastfeeding burns on average 500 extra calories a day. New breastfeeding mothers maintaining a balanced diet can lose weight much more quickly than their formula feeding counterparts. I often wonder when breastfeeding will become the next dieting fad.
10. Breastfeeding Improves Social Development – Breastfed babies excel psychomotor and social development compared to formula-fed babies. This trend is clear even at 12 months of age.
11. Breastfed Babies Have Improved Hand-eye Coordination – The reasons remain unclear but it has been proven that breastfed babies are able to see and manipulate objects at a younger age when compared with formula-fed babies.
12. Breastfeeding Promotess Oral Health – Breastfeeding is beneficial to a child’s tooth and jaw development. Breast milk contains a beneficial bacteria that fights tooth decay. Breastfeeding requires 60 times the output of energy as opposed to bottle feeding. This additional exercise builds muscle and facilitates proper jaw formation with straight healthy teeth. Extended breastfeeding results in less instances of undesirable positioning of teeth. This can save you big bucks at the orthodontist!
13. Breastfeeding Facilitates Better Speech Development – Milk flows much faster from an artificial nipple and this can lead the speech problems later on in life. Bottle-fed babies frequently develop tongue thrust difficulties trying to slow down the flow of milk. Babies that miss out on the physiological sucking at the breast due to early weaning may have an interruption in correct oral motor development causing changes to both the strength and posture of the speech organs. This may interfere with chewing, swallowing, breathing and speaking later in life.
14. Formula Fed Babies Have An Increased Risk Of Ear Infections – Ear infections are 4 times more prevalent in formula-fed babies.
15. Formula Fed Babies Have Increased Risk For Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – A number of studies show possible links between lack of breastfeeding and SIDS.
Read More About The Benefits of Breastfeeding:
Breast is Best Giant List of Breastfeeding Benefits
Environmental Benefits of Breastfeeding
Financial Benefits of Breastfeeding
Medical Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Benefits To Baby
Breastfeeding Benefits to Mother
Extended Breastfeeding Benefits