As I’m sure you’ve heard, there are many benefits to breastfeeding your child. Here are the Top 10 reasons that sold me on the wonders of breastfeeding.
Note: The following information was taken from the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the ProMom Organization.
Benefits to the Child’s Immune System.
Moms make antibodies for the diseases that they are currently being exposed to, and these antibodies can be passed on to the baby through breastfeeding. As a result breasfeeding can decrease the likelihood and/or severity of diseases such as bacterial meningitis, respiratory tract infections and uniary tract infections, ear infections, influenza, and many other diseases.
Decrease in Infant Death and SIDS
Mortality rates are reduced by 21% for children that are breastfed. Some research also suggests that the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is reduced in children who are breastfed.
Reduced Risk of Certain Conditions in Older Children and Adults
Risks of developing the following conditions are reduced for breastfed babies:
- Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes
- Hodgkin Disease
Increased Brain Development
Breastfeeding has also been linked to increased performance on IQ Tests as well as increased performance on other cognitive tests involving thinking, learning and memory.
Benefits to the Mother
The mother benefits from breastfeeding in the following ways:
- Returning to her pre-pregnancy weight faster
- Reducing her risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- Experiencing decreased postpartum bleeding
- Helping to shrink the mother’s uterus after birth
- Helping to naturally space children since many women do not ovulate for the first 6 months of breastfeeding (Important Note! For some women it is still possible to get pregnant during this time)
- Not having to wash, sterilize and prepare bottles or shop for formula
- Reducing costs – formula costs on average $1,200 for a year
Better Dental and Jaw Development
Drinking from the breast requires 60 times more energy than bottle feeding. This additionial excercise helps to build healthy jaws and straighter teeth. Also, breastfed babies have less tooth decay.
This increased jaw excercise also helps with speech development.
Breastfeeding increases the bond between a mother and baby. Babies need to be held and cuddled and breastfeeding satisfies this need. Research has also shown that the hormone released during breastfeeding (oxytocin) helps to develop maternal behaviour in the mother as well as increase her bond to her child.
Breastfeeding calms the mother and the baby. Also, breastmilk acts as a natural pain reliever in infants since it contains endorphins that help to supress pain.
Benefits to the Environment
Less waste from empty formula cans and bottles as well as less energy used and waste created due to the production and transport of formula.
Many Other Benefits
There are so many benefits to breastfeeding that they can’t all fit into any Top 10. Here are some other benefits to breastfeeding:
- Breastmilk is easier to digest than formula
- Breastfed babies have less chances of developing eczema
- Breastfed babies have better hand-eye coordination – It is not known why, but it has been shown that breastfed babies have better hand-eye coordination at an earlier age compared to formula fed babies.
- PEDIATRICS Vol. 115 No. 2 February 2005, pp. 496-506 (doi:10.1542/peds.2004-2491)
Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics
- McGill Newsroom
- 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child