The benefits of breastfeeding continue to expand as study after study is performed on the advantages of nursing for both mothers and babies. Most mothers choose to breastfeed for a variety of reasons and enjoy the other benefits by happenstance. In the vast majority of situations, breastfeeding is the ideal choice for babies, but it is still a choice.
Breastmilk is the Ideal Nutrition
No matter how hard they try, manufacturers of formula can’t duplicate everything in breastmilk. Breastmilk is unique in it’s composition and it’s delivery – unlike formula, breastmilk is delivered in stages, first a rapid watery milk to sate baby’s thirst and then a medium consistency designed to fill baby’s tummy. Finally a rich hind milk is delivered which is rich in nutrients and helps baby relax and sleep after a feeding.
Mother’s milk was designed by nature to be ideal for baby’s every need. The supply of breastmilk adjusts as baby grows and it is recommended to breastfeed babies exclusively for the first six months and then continue breastfeeding for the first year. Many mothers continue to breastfeed past this point as well.
Breastfeeding Helps Mum
Breastfeeding helps mum in many ways as well. When a baby is nursing, the uterus contracts helping to shrink it back down to size quickly. The breastfeeding helps the body adjust following delivery and also helps to protect the mother down the road. Studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers have reduced likelihoods of certain types of cancer.
Breastfeeding Bonds Baby and Mum
There is no bond like breastfeeding. The act of feeding your baby requires closeness between mother and child and the quiet time together is the perfect setting for intense bonding. In fact, babies are born with limited eye-sight. They can only see about twelve inches or less clearly. Coincidentally, this is the distance from your nursing newborn’s eyes to your face while holding him to your breast.
Breastfeeding Helps Mum Lose Weight
When you become pregnant up to fifteen pounds of weight are gained throughout the body. This fat is there to ensure you have enough resources to breastfeed your baby after delivery. So when you begin nursing, you burn an extra five hundred calories a day making that fat melt away. In some cases, your body might retain a bit of weight as nursing is an extension of pregnancy in many ways and your body might not be willing to give that weight up until you’ve weaned.
Nursing Raises Baby’s IQ
Some studies have shown that baby’s IQ is raised slightly by breastfeeding. It seems to be the components in breastmilk helping to boost IQs rather than just the closeness and bonding with mum as was originally believed.
Breastfeeding Boosts Baby’s Immunity
Breastfeeding helps to give your baby a boost during his transition from the womb to the outside world. For those first fragile days, his immune system is dependent on yours. Breastfeeding helps to transfer valuable antibodies to give him extra protection until his body can begin producing them on his own.
Breastfeeding is Cheap
Breastfeeding is hands-down the least expensive way to feed a baby. The food is always there, always plentiful and is totally free. The only costs you might incur as a breastfeeding mother is the cost of a quality pump to help you pump and store milk. Compared to the cost of twelve months of formula, however, the cost of a pump is very rational.