If you’ve ever wondered whether breastfeeding is worth it, the answer’s in: for sure. Not only does breastfeeding foster a strong bond between mama and baby, it offers both several unique advantages that can’t be found in formula.
Breast milk is easier to digest than infant formula
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, breast milk is “a living biological fluid with many qualities not replicable by human milk substitutes.” Among those qualities is the ability to adapt itself to the changing needs of an infant as she grows. During a single nursing session, breast milk transforms from a thinner foremilk that satisfies her thirst to a creamy hindmilk with higher fat content.
Even when mother’s own diet is inadequate, breast milk contains the essential nutrients for her baby’s development. Naturally, since breast milk is produced specifically for the nourishment of an infant, it’s easier to digest and even includes digestive enzymes and bioactive molecules that keep your infant’s gastrointestinal tract healthy.
While formula is designed to mimic as closely as possible breast milk, it’s impossible to replicate the components of mother’s milk. Baby’s gastrointestinal tract must adapt in order to process formula. For instance, breast milk contains higher levels of whey, which babies digest easily, than casein. Formula, on the other hand, has higher levels of casein, which takes longer for a baby to digest. Some babies also prove to be allergic to both cow’s milk protein and soy protein, which are the most prolific formulas.
Breast milk boosts baby’s immune system
In addition to carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and hormones, breast milk is rich in immune cells. Among these, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have anti-infective properties against against pathogens in the infant gastrointestinal tract, including Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter. The proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme prevent the spread of potentially pathogenic bacteria, preventing illnesses in infants.
Breast milk reduces the risk of asthma and allergies, and infants that are exclusively breastfed for the first six months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. Recent studies have also suggested that breast milk protect infants from late metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. All of these perks have led one study to call breast milk “a biological fluid required for optimal infant growth and development”.
Breastfeeding is linked with higher IQ scores
Breast milk is a natural source of fatty acids such as DHA and AA, which are critical in neurodevelopment. Several studies have shown a correlation between breastfeeding and increases in verbal IQ and performance IQ as children mature, and at least one group of scientists have found a relationship between breast milk and increases in white matter growth in children’s brains.
Breastfeeding burns calories
All that good, brain growth-inducing fat in breast milk has to come from somewhere, right? Essentially, your body is melting your own body fat to produce rich, fatty milk for your baby. For mothers who are a healthy weight before childbirth, evidence indicates that breastfeeding helps to quickly shed those pounds gained during pregnancy. A 2008 study of 30,000 Danish women found that breastfeeding was associated with lower postpartum weight retention in all categories of prepregnancy BMI and concluded that breastfeeding as recommended could “eliminate weight retention by 6 months postpartum in many women.”
Breastfeeding offers moms health benefits, too
Believe it or not, breastfeeding even makes mom healthier! One recent study indicates that breastfeeding can reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer by up to 91 percent. Another study found that women who breastfed for more than 13 months were 63 percent less likely to develop an ovarian tumor than women who breastfed for less than seven months. The longer the women breastfed, the greater the protection they received.
What are you waiting for? Start reaping the rewards of breastfeeding now. Call Milk N Mamas Baby or fill out your breast pump order form today.