Deciding to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby is a tough decision, especially with the opinions of those around you. Many medical experts advise exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months of life. Then, once your baby can tolerate foods, they suggest you breastfeed in addition to food until their first birthday.
Why breastfeeding is important
When we look at breastfeeding, it is common to focus solely on the benefits for the baby. However, not only do babies benefit from being breastfed but there are many benefits for mothers. Breast milk is remarkable because it adapts to your baby's needs at that specific time. In addition, breast milk carries many essential antibodies to help protect your baby and give them the nutrients they need to help your baby fight illness and be healthy.
Benefits of breastfeeding for mom
Breastfeeding creates a unique opportunity for mom and baby to bond. Many medical experts believe uninterrupted bonding time promotes healthy social and emotional development. There are many ways to bond with your baby while breastfeeding. Infants can only focus on items and people less than 12 inches away. That means that when you are cradling your bundle of joy close to you while breastfeeding, they can see your face. If you catch their glance, you will notice their gaze admiring you.
There are many ways to bond with your baby while breastfeeding, such as:
- Sing to your baby
- Speaking in a calm tone
- Cuddle or rocking
- Reading a book out loud
- Make eye contact
May help aid in weight loss
Exclusively breastfeeding burns, on average, up to 500 calories a day. However, many factors determine how much weight you may lose while breastfeeding. You may lose around one pound every couple of weeks with a proper diet and exercise. This may not seem like a substantial amount, but gradual weight loss is safer and healthier than rapid weight loss.
May lower risk of depression
Women who exclusively breastfeed may be at a lower risk for developing depression due to the release of Oxytocin while breastfeeding. Oxytocin is often referred to as the "happy hormone" because it may influence your social and emotional well-being. Although our levels of Oxytocin increase during breastfeeding, it is essential to note that a woman may still experience stress and depression due to the struggles of lactation or adjusting to a new baby or external reasons.
May prevent menstruation
Exclusively breastfeeding may prevent your body from ovulating. When we say exclusively breastfeeding, we mean that you nurse every few hours during the day and night. Once the frequency of breastfeeding decreases, such as when they start solid foods, your menstrual cycle may return. Most breastfed mothers will have their periods resume around their child's first birthday.
Benefits of breastfeeding for baby
Nutrition for baby from breast milk
Breast milk is unique because it provides all the nutrients your infant needs and adapts to your infant's needs. Breast milk comprises vitamins, healthy fats, protein, and lactose. The nutrients in breast milk promote infants' brain development and eye function. In addition, breast milk may decrease bacteria in the stomach.
Antibodies in breast milk
Even before your baby is born, your body produces antibodies passed through the placenta and to your baby. These antibodies help formulate your baby's immune system before birth. After delivery, you may notice your breast milk having a thick yellow color, known as Colostrum. Colostrum is vital for a newborn as it is filled with antibodies and antioxidants to help build their immune system to fight infections and help increase their gut function. Colostrum production begins between 12 and 18 weeks of pregnancy and continues for the first few days after delivery. After that, your milk will let down, and you will no longer be producing Colostrum. However, many women find it beneficial to save a bit of their Colostrum as it may contain healing properties if your infant gets an illness.
Better digestion in baby
Breast milk contains digestive enzymes that help babies digest breast milk. Without breast milk, babies have more difficulty digesting formula because infants do not naturally produce digestive enzymes like children or adults. Remember, your breast milk was created specifically for your baby, making it easy for your baby to digest, leading to less upset stomachs and vomiting. In addition, because breast milk is easier to digest, your babies' bodies do not need to work as hard to break down nutrients or vitamins in breast milk. Breast milk may also be known to decrease digestive issues in the future.
Promotes healthy weight gain in baby
On average, breastfed babies may gain an ounce a day in weight. Healthy weight gain is a good indicator whether your baby is getting enough breast milk. Babies who are breastfed tend to be leaner because formula-fed infants have a different level of body fat and may retain more water. It is important to note that there are many factors that contribute to babies weight gain such as level of activity and mothers diet. Infants grow at different rates so it is always important to check with your doctor to see if your baby is experiencing healthy weight gain for their bodies.
Belly Bandit Nursing Wear
Belly Bandit is your one-stop shop for all your nursing wear needs. Their Nursing wear was designed with comfortable fabric and easy nursing access. Nursing can get messy with breast milk leaks or baby spit-up. Belly Bandit makes sure they have you covered even with the strongest of leaks with their leakproof removable and washable nursing pads. Each nursing pad is 50% larger than traditional nursing pads and absorbs up to 6 tsp of liquid. From nursing bras, and nursing tops, to nursing shorts and leggings, Belly Bandit will always support you throughout your journey into motherhood and postpartum.
Breastfeeding has many benefits, which is why many doctors suggest it. Breastfeeding allows for bonding time between mom and baby. In addition, breast milk contains enriched customized nutrients and is easier to digest than formula. However, whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, you know what is best for you and your baby. If you have questions or concerns, contact your doctor.