Breastfeeding: exceptional health benefits for your baby and for you
Yes it really is true…breast is best for your baby. Nature’s perfect food, your breast milk is perfectly tailored to meet the nutritional needs of your hungry and growing newborn.
At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we support parents who choose to formula-feed their newborn but firmly believe in the overwhelming health benefits of breastfeeding — for both you and your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months
However, whether you breastfeed exclusively or supplement your breast milk with infant formula, you’ll be giving your baby a huge head start on a healthy future. Plus, once you get past the initial trial and error of finding the best position and technique, breastfeeding can become one of motherhood’s most rewarding tasks.
How your baby benefits from breastfeeding
In addition to being readily available, at the right temperature, and free, your breast milk is easier for your baby to digest. And unlike bottle feeding with formula, where the milk is the same from feeding to feeding, your own natural milk will change in response to your growing baby’s nutritional needs.
Check out these 7 health benefits of breastfeeding:
1. Boosts immunity and prevents many illnesses
It’s a proven fact that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from ear infections, asthma, allergies, childhood cancers, respiratory tract infections, GI illnesses and other common childhood ailments, in large part because their immune system is strengthened by antibodies and other immune-boosting factors passed on through their mothers’ milk. Colostrum, the protein-rich, low-fat “pre-milk” produced by your breasts before your real milk comes in, is particularly rich in these antibodies and is very important for your baby in those first few days of life.
2. Decreases the likelihood of childhood obesity, now and later on
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be obese as children.
3. Chance for mommy and baby to bond
There are few experiences in life that match the close emotional connection that comes from breastfeeding. No matter how close your child becomes with dad, there’s something wondrously special about skin-on-skin contact with your baby.
4. Fewer allergies and skin rashes
Studies have shown that breastfeeding significantly contributes to a decreased incidence of allergies and eczema.
5. Strong jaws, healthy teeth, fewer braces
Because breastfed babies have to work extra hard for their meals, they build stronger jaws, have better-developed teeth and palates, and experience fewer cavities later in life. They also have better jaw alignment and are less likely to need orthodontic work (braces) as they get older.
6. More adventurous taste buds
Since breast milk takes on the flavor of whatever you’re eating, your baby early on develops an acceptance of a wide range of tastes and flavors.
7. Crucial cognitive and emotional development
All those hours and hours of close bodily contact while breastfeeding do more than fill your baby’s tummy — in addition to making him/her feel nurtured and safe, that close contact with you builds a strong emotional foundation for self-confidence throughout life.
How you benefit from breastfeeding
As well as benefiting your baby, breastfeeding helps you too in significant ways:
1. A natural weight-loss system
Breastfeeding actually helps you lose your baby weight! When your infant sucks on your breast, this triggers the release of oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone that also spurs the shrinking of the uterus. Even though you’ll be adding more calories to your diet to make milk, these won’t translate into extra pounds (unless you eat more calories than you need).
2. Anti-cancer properties
Breastfeeding reduces your risk of uterine and breast cancer, as well as bone loss after menopause.
3. Feedings are easy and convenient
When you breastfeed, your baby’s milk supply is always ready and waiting, the right temperature and free! You don’t need to buy formula or a bottle warmer, or be constantly sterilizing baby bottles.
We help you navigate the ins and outs of breastfeeding
Starting with our newborn visits to you and your baby in the hospital soon after delivery and continuing through well-baby exams in the office, we’re here to help you feel comfortable and confident with breastfeeding.
We have two certified lactation consultants on our team. For a lot of moms, breastfeeding can be tough. But rest assured, we can help. We have two certified lactation specialists who can personally work with you and your baby so that breastfeeding becomes a positive, successful experience for both of you.
Is your baby getting enough? A lot of new moms worry that their babies may not be getting enough to eat, or whether their milk supply is providing enough nutrition. To make sure your baby is getting all he/she needs to thrive, we’ll want to see you and your newborn often in the office to weight him/her. We’ll also review with you how to monitor the number of wet and poopy diapers your baby is producing (optimal: 4-5 per day) so you can be confident he/she is getting enough to eat.
Breastfeeding classes. Prior to your giving birth, we’ll also make you aware of breastfeeding classes offered at the hospital where you plan to deliver. Our new parents tell us that these classes are very helpful and will give you and your partner much-needed peace of mind when first beginning breastfeeding.
To learn more about breastfeeding
To read American Academy of Pediatrics articles on breastfeeding’s benefits, eating for two, dad’s role in breastfeeding and more, please click here.