Let’s face it, breastfeeding is hard! It’s not always fun and sometimes it hurts and it certainly is not always easy.
But is it worth it?
That answer, of course, will vary from mama to mama. Many mothers cannot breastfeed for a number of reasons, but for a mother who is willing and able to give her child breast milk— the benefits are endless.
This is also good information for grandparents and other relatives who don’t understand why you breastfeed.
Here are the top reasons to breastfeed your baby:
- Your first milk, colostrum, is protection against all the germs your baby is suddenly exposed to. Colostrum also works as a laxative to get his intestines working to help clean out all the meconium. It’s comforting to know that the small amount of colostrum you’re making IS enough. A newborn’s stomach is only about the size of a teaspoon!!
- Breastmilk will meet all of your baby’s nutritional needs. Many of the vitamins and minerals in breastmilk haven’t even been discovered or named yet!
- Your breastmilk is literally the perfect food. The composition of your breastmilk will change as your baby gets older and their nutritional needs change.
- ANTIBODIES are the coolest things about breastfeeding, in my opinion. If you are sick, you won’t have to worry about passing your germs along to your baby. Your body is already working to protect your little one by passing along antibodies through your milk! Also, if your baby picks up some germs from some other kids at a playgroup or from a cart at the grocery store, the germs will be communicated to your body at the next nursing session and— BAM!— your body will start making specialized antibodies to keep your baby from getting sick. Awesome! More about immunities and breastfeeding.
(This isn’t to say breastfed babies don’t get sick. They do, but less often and for shorter periods than babies who are not breastfed.)
- Breastmilk has SO many uses! Does your baby have acne on his face? Spray some breastmilk on it. A stuffy nose? Spray a few drops of some breastmilk up his nose! Pink eye? Put a few drops of breastmilk in his eye. Rub a little breastmilk on a bug bite to relieve itchiness. Ear infections! Cradle cap! Diaper rash! Breastmilk is liquid gold and can help treat or cure so many ailments. And if you have sore or cracked nipples from breastfeeding, you can just put some milk on them to promote healing and keep them from getting too dry. How awesome is that?
- You simply cannot overfeed a breastfed baby. A breastfed baby will nurse until they are full, not until your breast is empty, like a bottle. On average, a baby empties 67% of the milk you have available at any time. Because of this, breastfed babies are less likely to become obese when they’re older.
- Of course you can bond while feeding a baby with a bottle, but a breastfeeding mother and her infant bond chemically as well. Your body will produce oxytocin and release prolactin, allowing both you and your baby to relax and feel comforted.
- Other benefits to your baby include less chance of developing asthma, ear infections, respiratory infections, stomach viruses, childhood leukemia and diabetes. Breastfed babies may also have higher IQ scores later in life.
- Your baby isn’t the only one who benefits; you benefit too. In my opinion, the coolest is that breastfeeding mamas have less of a chance of getting cancer! Breastfeeding also makes your uterus contract, bringing it back down to its pre-pregnancy size faster. This ensures you have less of a chance of a postpartum hemorrhage. Breastfeeding lowers your risk for osteoporosis, too.
- By the way, breastfeeding burns a ton of calories— about 500 per day!— so many mamas will likely lose their baby weight faster if they are breastfeeding.
There are countless more benefits, but I think these are the coolest. Breastfeeding isn’t only a way of feeding your baby, it’s a way of parenting.
Personally, I am a mother breastfeeding a baby and a toddler. I speak from my own knowledge and my own experience.
I am currently in the process of becoming a certified La Leche League leader. However, I am not a medical professional and I’m not medically trained in any way.
Most of the information in this article comes from what I’ve learned reading the book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,the official La Leche League International handbook.
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