Breastfeeding is no easy task but there are benefits that seem to be so worth it. Not only is breast milk the best source of nutrition for babies but it also has its short and long-term benefits for you and your baby. Here are some benefits you might’ve never known!
According to Lancet Global Health, “longer duration of breastfeeding is linked with increased intelligence in adulthood, longer schooling, and higher adult earnings”. Time has mentioned that people who have been breastfed as a baby scored four-point higher on IQ tests, made 15 percent more money, and attends school a year longer. The presence of saturated fatty acids in breast milk is essential for brain development. According to Dr. Bernado Lessa Horta from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, “Our study provides the first evidence that prolonged breastfeeding not only increases intelligence until at least the age of 30 years but also has an impact both at an individual and societal level by improving educational attainment and earning ability”.
Did you know that breastfeeding takes about 500 calories to make? After babies are born, you lose about 10 to 12 pounds. The weight comes from the baby’s weight, the placenta, and amniotic fluid. In the next couple of days, you lose five more pounds of water weight and love two pounds a month for the next six months. When breastfeeding, you use up calories that are from the food you eat every day with the fat stored in your body. Each time you breastfeed your baby, your uterus gets muscle contractions causing your uterus to shrink down. Breastfeeding uses calories, helping you lose the pregnancy weight much faster.
When you feed your baby breast milk, your body naturally stops ovulating. This means you can’t pregnant and will not get your period. Breastfeeding is natural birth control and is also called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) which refers to breastfeeding and “amenorrhea” which means not having your period.
Breast milk contains five antibodies and these are Immunoglobulins A, D, G, M and aforementioned IgE. Breastfeeding your baby will pass on these antibodies and can help prevent some types of allergies.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breastfeeding cuts the chances of your child becoming obese by 25% and recommends 6 months of breastfeeding if they can. Breastfeeding delays the foundation of solid food which may be high in energy. Babies that have been fed formula have higher insulin levels that can stimulation fat deposition. According to WHO, 16.8% of children who were never breastfed were obese compared to 9.3% of children that breastfeed for six months or more.
A child’s immune response system will only reach its full strength at the age of five. Breastfeeding means gaining extra protection from antibodies and gives a useful immune boost! Breastfeeding has T cells and B cells! T cells destroy invaders in the body while B cells make antibodies to strengthen the immune system.
Physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact help with the bond of you and your baby. Skin-to-skin contact helps calm babies; they cry less and sleep better. Not only does it benefit your baby but they report in reducing stress level and low levels of depression. It releases oxytocin which is the love hormone associated with relationships and bonding.
- Donna Murray, RN, BSN, Breastfeeding and Losing Too Much Weight, January 2020
- Caitlin St John, Why Breastfeeding Your Baby Longer Could Mean a Higher IQ
- “Breastfeeding”, Planned Parenthood
- Melissa Kotlen, Is There a Link Between Allergies and Breastfeeding?, August 2019
- Sarah Boseley, Breastfeeding reduces child obesity risk by up to 25%, WHO finds, April 2019
- Medela, Exploring The Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Baby: Protection From Viruses and Bacteria, 2018