Stamford Health Lactation & Breastfeeding Support Staff
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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. 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. Breastfeeding is ideal for your baby’s healthy growth, development and digestion. Furthermore, it contains powerful antibodies 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 help reduce belly fat after delivery.
4. Changes for the better. Right after you deliver, your “pre-milk,” also known as 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. Breast milk is free. If you need to pump, expect to pay just a couple hundred dollars for the pump, its accessories and bottles. If you choose to feed directly from the breast, you won't 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 a year in moms who decide to breastfeed regularly. That's a whole year without the hassle of pads and tampons!
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