10 Reasons to Breastfeed
By Tania P. Nisimblat Bodnar, MD
Are you trying to decide whether the bottle or breast is best? Here’s how both you and baby can benefit from nursing.
1. Get to know baby. Emotionally and physically, this is as close as it gets between the two of you. Medically speaking, breastfeeding stimulates the release of certain hormones that encourage both maternal behavior and bonding. And only during this time together will you learn your baby’s eating habits and patterns—it’s all about learning to pick up on cues and trust your instincts as a mom.
2. Healthier all around. Although formula can work for some babies, pediatricians always recommend breast milk. Breastfeeding is ideal for you baby’s healthy growth, development and digestion. Furthermore, it contains anti-infective properties that are believed to help protect against certain diseases and health conditions. Ask your doctor for specifics.
3. Burn, burn, burn. You guessed it—calories. Experts say breast milk contains nearly 20 calories per ounce. So if you feed baby 20 ounces a day, you’ll have burned 400 calories! Plus, breastfeeding is believed to reduce lower-region body fat after delivery.
4. Changes for the better. Right after you deliver, your “pre-milk,” called colostrum, is higher in protein and lower in sugar than milk itself. Your baby needs this. After a few days, the sugar content increases to help your baby consume more calories.
5. Cheap and convenient. Formula is expensive. Add the monthly cost and multiply it by 12, and that’s thousands of dollars. Breast milk is free. If you need to pump, expect to pay just a couple hundred dollars. Also, the choice to exclusively breastfeed eliminates the need to buy bottles—that means no hours of sterilizing or refrigeration.
6. Stronger bones. If you breastfeed, you’ll have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. A pregnant and lactating body absorbs calcium much more efficiently. In turn, this can also help your baby’s bone development in the long run.
7. Better healing. When your baby nurses, the hormone oxytocin is released, which helps your uterus to contract. This, in turn, reduces post-delivery blood loss. Overall, breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size in about 6 weeks, as opposed to 10 weeks if you choose not to breastfeed.
8. Period pause. If you solely breastfeed, your period will likely be delayed. Breastfeeding helps to keep estrogen and progesterone at bay, which puts ovulation on hold. While all our bodies are different, experts say periods can stop for up to 8 months in moms who breastfeed regularly. For others, up to a year.
9. Free birth control. To that point, you likely don’t have to worry about getting pregnant, as long as your period doesn’t come back and as long as you’re feeding around the clock. This includes those nighttime hours especially. Have an open conversation with your doctor, though, because he or she may recommend a backup birth control method if necessary.
10. A greener choice. Cows and the environment matter, too! Many dairy cows are raised for formula production which causes flatulence. Believe it or not, “gasses” emitted by cows make the ongoing greenhouse gas problem worse. So yes, you can help reduce your carbon footprint by breastfeeding.
Information Adapted From: