Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby. When your baby is born, there are a number of areas that are still very underdeveloped. One vital area is your baby’s immune system. Your baby’s immune system will continue to develop and mature over the first 10+ years of his life. But during the first 12 to 24 months, he will rely almost exclusively on your breastmilk for the immune protection he needs.
Breastmilk is also the perfect nutrition for your baby. It provides exactly the right mix of nutrients and protective antibodies that your baby needs while constantly changing to respond to the growth, nutritional and immunological requirements of your growing child for as long as you continue to provide him/her breastmilk. There are life-long health benefits for both you and your child that can be linked back to breastfeeding and breast milk feeding.
Breastfeeding enhances the development of neuronal connections in the baby's brain. Research has shown that breastfed children score higher on average on tests of intelligence and development.
Breastfeeding also allows the transfer of germs back and forth between the mother and baby which helps protect the baby against infection and allergies.
Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beneficial activities for mother and baby. There is no other single action by which a mother can so dramatically impact the present and future health of her baby.
No formula can duplicate the unique properties of breastmilk, no matter how many vitamins, minerals and supplements are added to what is basically a chemical formulation.
Breastmilk is the one and only natural, complete and complex nutrition for human infants. Just as importantly, breastfeeding promotes an exceptional bond between mother and baby that only a mother can provide.
Research shows that breastfeeding has a lifelong impact on your child’s health and development, long after breastfeeding ends.
Advantages for baby
- Helps the baby’s immune system mature
- Reduces gastrointestinal illness in infants by up to 82%
- Reduces respiratory illness by up to 30%
- Protects against chronic diseases, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and childhood cancers
- Delays the onset of hereditary allergic disease and lowers the risk of developing allergic disease
- Improves a baby’s neural development by up to 10%
- Lowers the risk of developing teeth misalignment and other dental issues
- Lowers the risk/delays early onset:
- Obesity by up to 35%
- Diabetes by up to 40%
- Reduces the risk of ear infections by up to 300%
- Reduces the risk of lymphoma by up to 800%2
- Reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by up to 500%
Advantages for moms
Lowered risk of:
- Breast cancer by as much as 25%
- Ovarian cancer by as much as 20%
- Osteoporosis by as much as 400%
- Developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 15%
- Developing postpartum anxiety and depression
Delayed return of menstrual cycle
- Breastfeeding should not be used as a birth control method, but breastfeeding does impact on fertility and is nature’s way of helping ensure a safe spacing between children
Faster return to pre-pregnancy weight
- Feeding your baby breastmilk can help mom burn through an additional 500 calories per day. That’s equivalent to running 8km or walking 11km every day.
Advantages for families
- Strong bonding between mother and infant, and father and infant
- Lower household expenditures by avoiding the high cost of formula
- Formula costs can run up to $50/week, or $2,600/year
- Lower healthcare costs for you and society overall than for formula-fed infants
Health Canada recommends:
- that your baby receive breastmilk exclusively for the first 6 months of his or her life
- that your baby should continue to receive breastmilk for the first 2 years of his or her life.
Breastfeeding aids in the uterus returning to original size after birth
- Breastfeeding causes the release of a hormone called Oxytocin
- Oxytocin is also responsible for the contraction of the uterus and therefore helps to decrease the size of the uterus after birth.
An average breastfeed lasts 16 minutes
- this is the average time for you to sit at intervals during the day and night for that special time with your baby
- a time for relaxation, contemplation and pure enjoyment - just you and your baby.
- when breastfeeding you burn up to an extra 500 calories per day
- while you sit and relax with your baby you are also burning calories. So the ideal way to lose weight without the exercise!
Almost three-quarters of moms produce more milk with their right breast
- no correlation to being right or left handed, just a fact!
Babies instinctively know how to get your milk quickly and efficiently
- they start breastfeeding with a faster suck for stimulation until you let-down. Then when your milk is flowing, they switch to a slower, deeper suck and eat until they’re full.
Breastfeeding reduces the exposure to sugar
- the only sugar a baby should have or even needs, is lactose. This is the harmless sugar found in breastmilk. Sucrose is the alternative and can cause damage to erupting teeth
About a third of moms can’t sense 'let-down'
- 'let down' is when your milk starts to flow
- it can also be called milk ejection
- the average time it takes for let down to happen is 56 seconds
- watch for your milk to flow and see it happen.
Your baby controls your breastmilk flow with an instinctive action that includes sucking, swallowing and breathing
- milk flows only when your baby moves his tongue a certain way whilst holding onto the breast
- he is able to pace himself and only sucks and swallows when he wants
- your baby can also pause and breathe regularly without letting go of the breast!
Babies breastfeed until they’re full not until they 'empty' your breast.
- on average, babies remove 67% of the milk you have available – this amount can vary widely among moms.
- with bottle feeding, a baby will generally feed until the bottle is empty
Breast size is not important!
- no matter what size you are, you’ll make enough milk for your baby - A cups rejoice!
Your milk sprays out of many holes, not just one
- the average amount of openings in the nipple is 9, with some even up to 18
73% of mothers get outside help for breastfeeding problems
- it is so important to ask for advice or help if you need it and as you can see, this is a common practice
- there is and entire profession dedicated to successful breastfeeding
- Lactation Consultants (LC's) are passionate about helping you and your baby breastfeed
- follow the link for details of how to find an LC near you: www.iblce.org
For the normally flat-chested, a temporary boost!
- an excellent reason to keep providing breastmilk up to 2 years as recommended by Health Canada
82% of mothers use a breastpump
- whether it is because of going back to work or to help overcome a temporary separation or problem, a breastpump is a valuable tool
- discuss with your health professional and check out the rest of our website for further information
Breastfeeding exposes your baby to many different tastes and smells
- early exposure to different flavours can influence a child's acceptance of food when weaning
Source: © 2014 Medela AG