Breastfeeding: a Win-Win for you and your baby
Breastfeeding has been found to contribute vastly to many aspects of wellbeing for both mother and baby. ACOG recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life. This is called exclusive breastfeeding. After these initial months, mothers can begin to wean their baby off the breast and slowly introduce other food types. This should be viewed as a transition period and it is important to remember that ultimately, it is up to the mother and her baby to decide when breastfeeding should subside completely.
Breast Milk is nutrient-rich and changes composition overtime to parallel your baby’s changing needs. It contains loads of antibodies which are proteins in our blood that recognize foreign substances like viruses and bacteria, to name a few. Furthermore, breast milk also contains all three macromolecules; protein, fats and carbohydrates as well as other nutrients like sodium and vitamins. These nutrients combined with frequent skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby have shown to be of physiological and socioemotional benefit.
On the physiological side, studies show babies who are breastfed have a significantly lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and have an increased ability to fight off common infections, both bacterial and viral, like strep strains and influenza, respectively. Lactation also takes a lot of energy; this means your body utilizes your fat stores as well as the calories from your diet to fuel milk production and milk letdown. This can aid new mothers in shedding extra pregnancy weight faster.
Breastfeeding as well as other forms of skin-to-skin contact, stimulate the production of oxytocin, a hormone known as the “love” or “bonding” hormone. This substance is increased during labor because of its ability to make the uterus contract in order for delivery to ensue. Likewise, it causes the uterus to contract after delivery in order to help the uterus recover and return to its normal size, an important part of the recovery process.
Furthermore, in regards to mental and emotional wellbeing, the frequent skin-to-skin contact prompted by breastfeeding has been found to strengthen the bond between mother and baby. Again, the love and bonding hormone comes into play, strengthening the healthy attachment between mother and baby.
For more information from ACOG about lactation including when to start breastfeeding, how often to breastfeed and how to get your baby to latch click the link below: https://www.acog.org
La Leche League International is an international organization with the mission of informing women about breastfeeding. For a comprehensive A to Z list of topics they’ve made relating to breastfeeding click the link below: https://www.llli.org