Benefits of Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not to shame families who have made the personal choice to formula feed or supplement with formula. Ultimately the choice is yours to do what is best for you and your family. It is understood that there are many reasons parents choose against breastfeeding and your right to make that decision is respected here.

In the past and more recently, I have encountered the question, “Why do you breastfeed?,” or “Why are you still breastfeeding” and “What are the benefits of breastfeeding?” These are legitimate questions, and I intend to give a family reasons to consider breastfeeding or to continue in your journey for as long as possible.

Formula feeding is considered as an alternative way of feeding or substitute for breastfeeding. Formula manufacturing companies make claims of coming close to mimicking breastmilk, yet have not been able to produce a formula that is equal to breastmilk in benefits.

Here are a few benefits for you to consider:

Health Benefits for Baby

Human milk provides the proteins, sugar, and fat that your baby needs to be healthy, it also contains many substances that are good for your baby’s immune system, such as antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells. These benefits protect your baby against diseases and infections and allegies during the breast feeding journey, and even after the child has weaned from breastfeeding. Formula can’t do this.

To illustrate:

You have come down with a cold,  you could pass these germs on to the baby. No worries  the antibodies your body produces to fight your cold will be passed on through your breastmilk. The antibodies that are passed on will help the baby fight the cold germs quickly and effectively and possibly they will avoid developing the cold at all.

Breastmilk is easier to digest for infants, thus reducing or even eliminating constipation.

Washing Cloth Diapers from breastfed babies is MUCH EASIER.

Benefits for Mom

With the challenges that exist while adjusting to a new addition to the family. Its nice to know that Breastfeeding has us covered in this respect. Breastfeeding helps the body to produce hormones such as:

Prolactin- During pregnancy prolactin levels increase. After the baby is born, prolactin stays high if you are breastfeeding. This hormone eliminates the guess work in feeding the baby, as this hormone is what stimulates milk production levels. Think supply and demand.  you will not have to guess how much milk the baby needs, your breast and baby figure that out amongst themselves.

Oxytocin- This hormone is for let down, or the release of the milk. But it is also knows as the “Love Hormone” according to Expectant Mothers Guide. This hormone is the same hormone that brings on loving, bonding feelings. So now you get to have these feelings with your baby, but Oxytocin does more still. It is also the hormone that stimulates the contraction of the uterus. Hello Waist Line, Goodbye baby weight.

Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer

As the daughter of a Breast Cancer Survivor, this is a HUGE factor for me. What can I do to reduce my risks?  According to the CDC and Susan G Komen Research Studies:

Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women [12,83-85].

A pooled analysis of data from 47 studies found that compared to mothers who never breastfed, [84]:

Mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total (combined duration of breastfeeding for all children) of 1 year were slightly less likely to get breast cancer.

Mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total of 2 years got about twice the benefit of those who breastfed for a total of 1 year.

Mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total of more than 2 years got the most benefit.

Although data are limited, breastfeeding for less than 1 year may also modestly lower breast cancer risk [84].  ( For more studies on Breast Cancer as it relates to breastfeeding visit http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Table5Breastfeedingandbreastcancerrisk.html)

This is to answer those rude comments where people ask, “Are you STILL breastfeeding?” and a eye roll to the term “extended breastfeeding” which is a term I hate because it insinuates that there is a cut off point in feeding your child, and anything beyond becomes EXTRA or no longer necessary.  Please feel completely free to breastfeed your toddler. It is good for your health and the toddler.

Financial  and other Practical Benefits

Breastmilk is free. Formula can cost anywhere from $1100- $1700 USD per year according to Whattoexpect.com

Its easier to latch a baby in the middle of the night than fumble with bottle warmers formula or even those automatic bottle dispensers.

Leaving the house is much easier. Instead of packing bottles and formula and maybe bottled water. You always have your milk ready and at the right temperature

Great for the environment. No cans or formula bottles to throw away.

I have found breastfeeding multiples to be way more beneficial than I had ever imagined.  Though I did struggle a bit getting started as I mention in a previous post about my breastfeeding journey. I found it was a great way to calm the children be it in situations where they are stressed like the doctors office, or when they are tired and are having trouble sleeping. Breastfeeding is both nutritious and comforting for the child. And feeding this way can calm a child or children in record time.

When at breastfeeding at home and the twins were smaller I used the My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow specially designed for breastfeeding twins in Tandem. IT HAS POCKETS.

My advice to you is to trust your body. Trust the body of a mother. That body has built and birthed a human, with the exception of a few factors that could prevent you from doing so,  you most certainly can handle feeding the baby.

Gerria C

Editor

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