Family Health

Health benefits of breastfeeding

Today kicks off 2017’s World Breastfeeding Week, and here at Any Baby Can we’ve made it our mission to help educate new mothers on how breastfeeding can benefit both mother and infant in those first few months. Research has shown that breastfeeding can lower both mother and infant’s chance of developing certain illnesses and chronic diseases.

From the minute a baby is conceived to their 2nd birthday, they are in a nutritionally critical stage, where what they eat will help determine their health for the rest of their life. Due to breast milk’s rich nutrients, doctors recommend that babies be breastfed during this stage.  Being breastfed at this stage can support healthy brain developments in babies and higher educational achievements later in life.

Breastfeeding has several benefits for both mother and infant that can last their entire life. Doctors recommend breastfeeding because:

  • Breast milk helps prevent certain childhood illnesses. The cells, hormones, and antibodies help protect infants from illnesses such as asthma, childhood leukemia, childhood obesity, ear infections, eczema, lower respiratory infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Breast milk has added health benefits for mothers, as it can lower their risk for post-partum hemorrhage, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
  • Breast milk adapts to meet your baby’s needs. Your milk will actually chemically and nutritionally change as your baby grows. The first milk produced is called “liquid gold” due to its deep yellow color. This thick milk is called colostrum is filled with nutrients and antibodies for your baby. Colostrum also helps develop your baby’s digestive system. Colostrum vanishes about 3 to 5 days after you give birth, when your milk becomes thinner and more mature, yet is still filled with the nutritionally correct portions of fat, sugar, water, and protein to meet your baby’s needs.
  • Breastfeeding is inexpensive and convenient. Instead of buying, mixing, and preparing formula—which can cost up to $1,500 a year—breast milk is free, always readily available, the correct temperature, and nutritionally perfect for your baby.
  • Breastfeeding helps the mother-baby bond. Skin-to-skin contact is very important for the emotional and mental development of babies, as this physical contact releases oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is also boosted in the mother, causing her to relax and breast milk to flow more easily.

For more questions regarding the benefits of breastfeeding, check out the National Institute of Health’s research on the topic. To learn more about family health and parenting tips and advice, visit us at Any Baby Can and register for one of our affordable parenting classes, or give us a call at 512.454.3743.

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