The choice to breastfeed helps strengthen the bond between mother and baby and results in many health benefits for both. Not only is breast milk packed with nutritional value for the baby, but breastfeeding also offers protection against health conditions for the mother. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life, continuing through the first year as other appropriate foods are introduced into the infant’s diet. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a mother breastfeed for at least the first six months and up to two years or longer. The longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the benefits for the infant and the mother. Learn more about our postnatal care services.
Breastfeeding Benefits The Mother
When most people think of the debate between bottle or breast milk for women who can produce breast milk, they often only think of the benefits to the infant. However, breastfeeding also has many benefits to the mother, including:
- Mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. However, you should always speak with a doctor regarding health risks after pregnancy.
- Oxytocin is released by the brain nursing a baby, reducing stress and anxiety. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of postpartum depression.
- Losing pregnancy weight is often easier as breastfeeding burns up to 600 calories per day.
- The mother’s body has a natural ability to produce breast milk that adapts and changes to provide the right nutrients for the needs of a growing baby. In fact, breast milk from mothers of premature infants contains more protein, fat, and nutrients essential for bone growth, brain development, and protection against infection
Breast Milk Prevents Illnesses For The Baby
Breast milk is considered bodily fluid and includes live cells like stem cells that naturally aid in organ and tissue growth of the brain, heart, kidney, or bones. Colostrum, or the mother’s initial milk, contains proteins that protect the baby from bacteria. There are essential antibodies and live white blood cells in breast milk that help infants develop a strong immune system to fight infection. When the mother is sick, the amount of these white blood cells found in breast milk actually increases. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of the following:
- Asthma and respiratory disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Gastrointestinal illness
- Ear infections
- Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) of the intestine, an issue more common in premature infants
Breast Milk Changes Based On Diet
Breast milk changes in smell and taste, depending on what foods the mother eats. This exposes the baby to more flavors and can help decrease food sensitivity and pickiness as solid food is introduced.
While breast milk is the most nutritious option for babies, there are times when it is not a recommended option, such as when the mother is taking certain medications or undergoing treatment for some medical conditions. What is consumed by the mother is ultimately passed on to the infant through the breast milk, so it is important to discuss medications with a physician at Roswell OB/GYN in Alpharetta, GA.
Breast Feeding Mother Have Rights
Mothers are protected under laws in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands giving the right to breastfeed in any public location. There also are workplace laws that require employers to provide mothers for one year after the child’s birth with reasonable breaks and a private area that is not a bathroom in which to pump breast milk. When traveling, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines allow mothers to carry breast milk in a carry-on, and the amount can exceed 3.4 ounces and does not need to be in a clear bag.
Do You Want To Learn More? Speak With A Provider!
The early stages of an infant’s life are full of many questions; however, there is little debate over the benefits of breast milk for infant growth and development. For more information on breastfeeding, or other trials of being a new mom, consult with the professionals at Roswell OB/GYN in Alpharetta, GA.