What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is not easy for every new mother, but there are certainly scientifically-proven advantages to feeding your child breast milk during the first years of his or her life. There’s no arguing that breastfeeding is considered the gold standard of nutrition – It has hormones, antibodies, enzymes, live cells and so that is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and others recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed until six months and then to go on to continue breastfeeding up to one year. The baby is not the only that benefits from breastfeeding –  mothers who breastfeed also see health benefits themselves, including a decreased risk of postpartum hemorrhage, earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight, and a decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

Here are a few other top reasons breastfeeding is important:

  • A Healthier Baby – Extensive studies have shown that babies are healthier when breastfed. The incidences of pneumonia, colds, and viruses are reduced among breastfed babies.
  • Stronger Bones – Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. When a woman is pregnant and lactating, her body absorbs calcium much more efficiently.
  • Boosts Brain Development -Studies have shown that breastfeeding helps boost brain development in babies. And it’s not just from the nutrients but for moms, that nurse off of breasts are put into different positions helping the baby develop coordination. Breastfeeding has also been shown to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes and IQ scores. Higher IQ scores and higher teacher ratings are seen in infants who were exclusively breastfed for three months or longer.
  • Connection –  Breastfeeding is a chance for mom and baby to connect, but it’s also a way of calming a baby. A unique and powerful physical and emotional connection between you and your baby – breastfeeding is the one parenting behavior only the mother can do.

For more details and to educate yourself on breastfeeding, visit the World Health Organization.

Lourdes Martin

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