Breastfeeding benefits aren’t just limited to the baby but also to mamas. In this article, we’re rounding up why breastfeeding is a journey worth embarking on despite the breastfeeding pain and sleepless nights.
What is breastfeeding? In a nutshell, it’s when a mama feeds her baby breastmilk. It can be directly from the breast or by expressing it by hand or using a breast pump. On the other hand, to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is a way to “ensure child health and survival.”
Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world. In fact, babies are born with a natural instinct to breastfeed.
These are called the suck and rooting reflexes. Basically, the suck reflex is the baby’s instinct to suck anything that touches the roof of their mouth, while the latter is when the baby turns towards anything that touches their cheeks or mouth.
Is it a walk in the park then, considering babies seem to be hard-wired for breastfeeding? That isn’t the case, moms. It involves you learning from your baby and vice-versa.
When Should You Start Breastfeeding?
For breast milk meets nutritional needs, the WHO recommends that breastfeeding be initiated during the first hour of life and continued during the first six months of life.
According to the Ministry of Health of Singapore, skin-to-skin contact is also essential when initiating breastfeeding and should be provided unless there is an unavoidable medical reason.
WHO also recommends breastfeeding up until two years of age and beyond. This is because breastmilk is still able “to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.”
Practical Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
Breastfeeding is no easy feat, but you can be better prepared for what lies ahead with these tips:
- During the first few days of your breastfeeding journey, it pays to have essentials such as Mama’s Choice Intensive Nipple Cream, a breastfeeding pillow, and a nursing bra or top.
- If you have the time, sign up for a breastfeeding class before you give birth.
- In the beginning, don’t stress too much. Your milk supply will surely dwindle because of stress. So instead, eat a healthy diet, rest as much as you can, and stay positive.
- You can also use a breast pump like Mama’s Choice Single Electric Breast Pump instead of directly feeding on the breast if you prefer to breastfeed that way.
- Read up on growth spurts, usually around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. During these spurts, your baby will breastfeed longer and more often.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby
1. Breastmilk provides ideal nutrition for the baby
The WHO describes breastmilk as the perfect food for infants. Safe, clean, and always at the right temperature, breastmilk contains all the nutrients a baby needs for the first months of life.
Colostrum is the first milk that moms will produce before it becomes transitional milk and then mature milk. Thicker, more yellow, and jam-packed with nutrients (this is why colostrum also goes by the name liquid gold!), it promotes growth and health in your newborn.
2. Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of diseases
Did you know that the chances of a breastfed baby developing illnesses and diseases are lower? These include asthma, bacterial meningitis, sudden infant death syndrome, pneumonia, gastroenteritis, ear infections, and even childhood cancers.
3. Breastmilk contains necessary antibodies
Breast milk is brimming with antibodies called immunoglobulins that help fight off viruses and bacteria. When a mama is exposed to viruses and bacteria, antibodies are transferred through the breastmilk to boost her baby’s immunity.
And even more impressive is that breastmilk will change when a baby is sick. Researchers believe that a mother’s baby can know this through the baby’s saliva. How amazing is that?
4. Breastfeeding helps prevent childhood obesity
A study published in the Pediatrics journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics highlighted that babies who drink breast milk directly from the breast had lower rates of obesity.
One reason behind this is that, with direct latching, babies are less likely to overfeed. When they’re full, they will simply stop nursing. With bottle feeding, mamas or caregivers will be more likely to encourage babies to finish a bottle.
5. Breastfeeding may help children become smarter
Although it does not mean that formula-fed babies can’t be more intelligent than breastfed babies, several studies have shown that breastfed babies have slightly higher IQs.
For example, experts have pointed out that those who breastfed for at least a year performed better in intelligence tests in a Brazil study.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Moms
1. Breastfeeding helps mamas recover from childbirth more easily
Breastfeeding may look effortless, but it burns about 500 calories a day. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, which triggers the let-down reflex and causes the uterus to shrink and return to pre-pregnancy size. Plus, it also reduces postpartum bleeding.
2. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of postpartum depression
Breastfeeding benefits don’t just cover the physical aspects. According to a study, moms who breastfeed are less likely to experience postpartum depression.
3. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers
Did you know that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer by as much as 4.3% for every year of breastfeeding?
Meanwhile, another study revealed that mamas who choose to breastfeed for more than 13 months are 63% less likely to develop ovarian cancer than moms who breastfeed for less than 7 months.
4. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, in particular, can be prevented by almost 50% of moms who breastfeed for longer than 2 months. And for mamas who continue to breastfeed past the 5-month mark, a reduction of more than 50% is noted.
5. Breastfeeding is good for the heart—literally and metaphorically
Breastfeeding forges a connection between a mama and her baby is indescribable. Much of that can be owed to the hormones oxytocin and prolactin that helps mama feel less stressed and more calm, confident, and positive.
In addition, breastfeeding also lowers the risks for hypertension and cardiovascular diseases by 20-30% in mamas who breastfeed for at least four months.
Have a safe, pain-free breastfeeding journey
We believe that breastfeeding is a personal decision here at Mama’s Choice. We’re just here to help you learn the facts about breastfeeding so you can make an informed decision for yourself and your baby. 🙂
But if you need a little help on your breastfeeding journey, Mama’s Choice Intensive Nipple Cream is here for you! Using some of the best natural ingredients, our uniquely innovative formula is infused with date palm extract, coconut oil, and shea butter.
These ingredients help to moisturize your nipples, so you don’t have to worry about soreness and dryness. Apply it after every breastfeeding session to relieve cracked skin or prevent nursing pains!
Click the banner below to shop our nipple cream today!
Mama's Choice Team
A team of passionate writers, young mamas, and creative superheroes who help mamas face motherhood one educational article at a time!