The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Institutes & Services > Women's Services

Optimal Nutrition for Your Baby’s Health and Growth

Your decision to breastfeed your baby is a gift that will last a life time! Research has shown that your breast milk is uniquely designed for your baby’s optimal health and growth for as long as you breastfeed – and well beyond! It has immediate and longer-term benefits for mothers as well.

Babies Benefit From Being Breastfed:

Your breast milk changes to meet your growing baby’s needs:

  • Your breast milk is designed to meet baby’s needs at all stages of development. The first milk, colostrum, is packed with nutrients and immunities. It is thick and low in volume, so that baby can practice breastfeeding for a few days before mother’s milk volume increases.
  • Your colostrum changes to thinner milk and the volume increases between days 3 to 5 after birth. It has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to nourish your growing baby and still has all of the immunities of colostrum.
  • If your baby is born preterm, your breast milk has a special combination of nutrients that is different from mothers’ whose babies are born full-term.

Your breast milk is easy for baby to digest:

  • Your breast milk contains proteins that are more easily and fully digested than the proteins in infant formula. The first milk, colostrum, acts as a laxative so your baby can pass meconium which can help prevent jaundice.

Your breast milk contains many immunities that are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory:

  • Babies have immature immune systems. Your breast milk helps to coat baby’s digestive tract and reduce chances of getting illnesses like diarrhea. Breast milk protects against ear and upper respiratory infections. Babies who are breastfed get sick less often and if they do, for shorter periods of time.

Breastfeeding promotes a sense of calmness:

  • Holding your baby skin to skin while breastfeeding is very calming to baby and you because it activates special hormones. The closeness helps you both to develop an important bond and gives baby a feeling of security.

Breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing the following:

  • Allergies, atopic dermatitis, and asthma
  • Hypertension                                                 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease                          
  • Type I Diabetes                                             
  • Childhood cancers (including childhood leukemia)
  • Childhood obesity
  • Celiac disease
  • SIDS
  • NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis)

Mothers Benefit From Breastfeeding, Too!

Breastfeeding is convenient:

  • Breast milk is always fresh, clean, exactly the right temperature, and readily available.
  • Nothing to mix, warm up, or clean up. No waiting for your hungry baby!

Breastfeeding saves money: 

  • Breast milk is always free!  Families can save over $1,500 per year if they don’t have to buy infant formula and feeding supplies.
  • Breastfed babies are healthier overall and mothers miss work less often. When babies are healthy, less money is spent on health care.

Breastfeeding is healthy for mothers:

  • Breastfeeding stimulates the hormone, oxytocin, which causes mother’s uterus to contract in order to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. Oxytocin helps mother’s milk to flow and has a wonderful calming effect on mother.
  • Mothers who exclusively breastfeed have lower chances of return of menstrual periods.

Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing the following:

  • Types 2 diabetes
  • Post partum depression
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pre-and post-menopausal breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

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