As you approach the end of your pregnancy, your body is preparing to breastfeed. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby, as it contains the best combination of ingredients for a strong immune system and overall growth and development. There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding not only for your baby, but also for you.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Benefits for Baby
Breast milk provides all the nutrition your baby needs for the first six months of life. No additional food or water is recommended, so it makes feeding your baby easy. Your breast milk contains the perfect blend of nutrients, fat, and protein for your baby to grow at just the right rate.
As time passes and your baby grows, your milk changes to meet the new nutritional requirements. For example, your first milk is high in fat with less water but at three months of age, your milk has less fat and more water.
Breastfed babies also have fewer illnesses. The rates of ear infections, respiratory problems, asthma, and allergies are lower in breastfed babies. There is a strong connection between breastfeeding and a healthy immune system. You will pass your antibodies to your baby through your breast milk, giving your baby a head start in fighting off infections.
Breast milk also makes a protective coating inside your baby’s stomach to keep germs from taking hold.
Benefits for Mom
Breastfeeding your baby has health benefits for you, too. Mothers that breastfeed return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner and have lower rates of breast and uterine cancer. Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to normal and decreases blood loss after your baby is born. You may also experience a break from your period for as long as 12 months.
Many medical organizations strongly recommend breastfeeding, including The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.
2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2014). Breastfeeding.
3. Agarwal S., Karmaus W., Davis S., Venu G. (2011). Journal of Human Lactation (Vol 27, no.2). Review: Immune Markers in Breast Milk and Fetal and Maternal Body Fluids: A Systematic Review of Perinatal Concentrations.