The topic of breastfeeding is a complex one in today’s society. To do it. Not to do it. How long to do it. All questions that come up for women when they are pregnant and trying to decide what will work for them. Many women in the United States also face the fact that they may have to go back to work quickly and will have to decide if they want to pump. This post will address some of the benefits to mom and baby with breastfeeding and cover some general information to help make an informed decision.
Benefits to baby
• Breastmilk is perfectly formulated to baby’s needs and changes regularly to meet those needs. Baby’s saliva transfers chemicals to Mom’s body and the composition of the milk can change based on that information.
• When babies are first born they are inoculated against germs as they come though the birth canal and that continues via feeding with breastmilk. This means babies fed with breastmilk get sick less often, have a decreased chance for ear infections and other viruses.
• New babies need skin to skin contact to feel safe and nurtured. This can be accomplished by breastfeeding. This contact also helps Mom to make more of the hormone oxytocin which helps to maintain the milk supply and keep Mom calm (so really there is double benefit with this one).
Benefits to mom-
• It takes a lot of energy for a woman’s body to make milk. Most moms want to get back to pre-pregnancy weight so breastfeeding can be beneficial in that way. Each ounce of breast milk “costs” your body about 20 calories to make, an average baby eats about 20 ounces a day which means without much effort on your part you have just burned 400 calories!
• Breastfeeding is affordable in that it costs no monetary value to do it. Depending on the type of formula you would be using (keeping in mind that a lot of infants have trouble digesting the enzymes in a dairy based formula) the prices ranges from 130 to well over 400 dollars a month. That is significant cost to consider over the course of a year or more.
• There is considerably less hassle when it comes to breastmilk. It is always available and at the correct temperature. It takes more time and effort to prepare a bottle (with formula or breastmilk), it has to be warmed, kept in a safe environment and then the bottle has to be well sanitized before another use.
Other fun facts about breastfeeding-
• Breastfeeding can be beneficial to the environment. Less trash is created overall. Also most formulas are dairy based and cows are actually one of the highest contributors to global warming. Less dairy means less harmful gasses in the atmosphere.
• 75% of mothers produce more milk in the right breast compared to the left, even if they are left-handed.
• Breastmilk actually comes out of 10-20 different pores not just one.
• The World Health Organization recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for 6 months and then up to 2 years while adding in other foods.
• In the United States Montana has the most mothers who exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months as compared to other states.
• A reported 92% of women have some difficulty when beginning breastfeeding. So don’t be discouraged! Ask questions, find resources and give yourself some grace as your learn this new skill.
There is so much more information about this topic. Post below if you have questions, need help, or have found something helpful as a new breastfeeding mama! Know there are lactation consultants, online resources, group classes and so much more available to you.