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Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby and You


You want to protect your newborn from pneumonia, ear infections, asthma, colds and flu. Breast-feeding can help reduce the chances your infant will contract any of these conditions. And, nursing can provide even more benefits for both you and your baby. According to according Bozeman Health Family Birth Center Lactation Coordinator Beckie Walters, RN, BSN, IBCLC, RLC:

1. Breast milk contains anti-infective properties that may help protect your infant against certain diseases and health conditions, including the risk of developing chronic conditions such as type I diabetes, celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. Studies also found it lowers your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome by nearly 50 percent.

2. All babies need to be held, so breastfeeding provides an opportunity to indulge them. Infants are comforted by being held close and cuddled while feeding.

3. Following delivery, your “pre-milk,” called colostrum, is full of antibodies that protect your infant. It also is higher in protein and lower in sugar than milk itself, so even a small amount can satisfy a baby’s hunger. After a few days, the sugar content increases to provide more calories for your baby. And, breast milk is more digestible than formula.

4. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. A woman who lactates absorbs calcium much more efficiently, which can also help your baby’s bone development.

5. Breastfeeding promotes your baby’s healthy growth, development and digestion. It also aids in the development of your baby’s immune system.

6. When your baby nurses, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus contract and thus reduce post-delivery blood loss. Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size more quickly, in about six weeks, as opposed to 10 weeks if you don’t breastfeed.

7. Breastfeeding exclusively causes the release of prolactin, which helps keep estrogen and progesterone levels low, thus preventing ovulation. Studies show a nursing mother’s menstruation can stop for six months to a year. Whether breast or bottle feeding, your prolactin levels eventually drop so you will start ovulating again. Talk with your doctor about your need for birth control.

8. Nursing helps you lose weight after giving birth, and particularly is believed to reduce lower-region body fat after delivery. Breast milk contains nearly 20 calories per ounce, so feeding your baby 20 ounces a day will burn 400 calories. Most babies drink 20 to 26 ounces daily.

Categories: Simply Healthy