Nursing your baby is the best thing you can do for his/her development, but that’s not the only benefit. Breastfeeding has all kinds of benefits; continue reading to learn what they are.
Nursing your baby could be the best decision you ever make. Breastfeeding has many benefits, both short- and long-term, for both the mother and baby.
Breast milk contains all the vitamins and nutrients that a baby needs in their first six months of life. It consists of substances that protects the baby from infections and viruses. You could even say that lactation is the natural continuation of the reproductive process after birth.
Nursing your baby will help you recover faster after giving birth. It will also reduce your risk of postpartum depression, while also saving you time and money.
Reasons to nurse your baby
Benefits for mom
- The sucking stimulates the production of hormones that contract the uterus and help end lochia (a discharge made of blood and placenta remaining after having given birth).
- Nursing helps increase your oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that will help your uterus recover faster and get back to its normal size and shape. This, in turn, will help prevent bleeding and infection postpartum.
- Likewise, oxytocin helps you feel relaxed and protected. High oxytocin levels mean you’ll be less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Additionally, it helps the mother and baby bond.
- Nursing for at least one year lowers the amount of estrogen your body will produce. It changes the structure of the breast tissue, which lowers your risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer in the future.
- Breastfeeding burns between 450 and 500 calories a day. That means you will more easily get back to your pre-baby weight.
- It is good for your cardiovascular system, since it affects risk factors. These include: lipid levels, obesity, blood pressure, insulin, and glucose.
- Nursing reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis in the future.
- It saves you time, money, and work, since breast milk is free, always ready and available. Plus, it’s always at the perfect temperature and the baby decides how much they need.
- Having the ability to physically and emotionally satisfy your baby may increase your self-confidence.
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Benefits for baby
- Nursing for at least six months (with no solid food, formula, or water) is the best way to protect your baby. They will be at a lower risk of stomach viruses, respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis.
- Breast milk is the most complete food for a newborn. In short, it assures ideal psychological, nutritional, hormonal, and immunological development. In addition, it is always at the perfect temperature and is more easily digested than any other milk or food.
- Babies who are breast fed end up with fewer allergies: both food allergies and environmental. This is in comparison to babies who are fed formula, which contains cow milk or soy as its main ingredient.
- Proper sucking and swallowing of breast milk helps in the development of a baby’s jaw, teeth, and speech.
- The variety of flavors that a baby tastes in breast milk (varying depending on what the mother eats) prepares them better for the future when they will have to eat foods with all kinds of flavors.
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Other things to think about
Breast milk contains less insulin than formula, and insulin triggers the creation of fat. Breast fed babies have less leptin in their system, a hormone that plays a fundamental part in appetite regulation.
Another important fact is that the composition of breast milk changes as the baby grows. This way, it is constantly meeting their needs at every stage of development.
In addition, nursing can help prevent certain health conditions, like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory intestinal diseases.
One of the most important antibodies that breast milk contains is immunoglobulin. This substance protects the baby from invading germs by forming a protective layer on the membranes of their intestines, nose, and throat. It also protects them from E. coli, salmonella, strep, staph, pneumococcus, poliovirus, and rotavirus.
But another, more important, reason to nurse your baby is that it strengthens the bond between mother and child. It fulfills their need for nearness and security, two things that are closely related to both their self-esteem and the relationship they’ll have with you their whole life.