Breastfeeding during your baby’s first six months offers a range of advantages.
Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life isn’t just about providing the perfect nutrition for your little one (though experts agree it’s the gold standard in infant nutrition). It also provides a unique bond between mother and baby. And that’s not all: exclusive breastfeeding even improves the health of the planet! In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into five reasons experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding during those critical first six months.
- Breast milk is the perfect food for a newborn’s delicate digestive system.
- Breastfeeding provides health benefits for you and your baby.
- Making time for breastfeeding makes time for mother-infant bonding.
- Breastfeeding can be convenient and cost-effective.
- Breastfeeding is extremely environmentally friendly.
Breast milk is the perfect food for a newborn’s delicate digestive system.
Let’s start with the most obvious benefit of exclusive breastfeeding. It contains all the nutrients an infant needs to grow and develop, and it’s easy for newborns to digest, especially when compared with manufactured infant formula. Your breast milk has the perfect amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and vitamins for your baby, designed on the spot to meet your little one’s needs in the moment. As your baby grows and its nutritional needs change, so does your breast milk.
Breastfeeding provides health benefits for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding transfers antibodies and other immune boosters from mother to baby (and back again) – a perk you don’t get from formula. For babies, it can reduce the risk of infections, allergies, and chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes. For mothers, it lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Making time for breastfeeding makes time for mother-infant bonding.
Research shows that a longer duration of breastfeeding is significantly associated with higher levels of attachment security, which experts attribute to a number of characteristics that are unique to breastfeeding. For example, compared to other feeding methods, breastfeeding provides more frequent skin-to-skin contact, a greater amount of mother-child time, and increased attunement of emotional and attentive states between mother and infant. Additionally, breastfeeding releases oxytocin and prolactin, which soothes baby naturally and may enhance maternal caregiving traits.
Breastfeeding can be convenient and cost-effective.
Formula can be expensive, and during times of market insecurity, it can be hard to come by as we learned in 2022. It also takes a little effort, whereas with breastfeeding, all you need is some skin-to-skin time with your baby. While work schedules and health scares can make exclusive breastfeeding more challenging, you can stay on your breastfeeding schedule and stock up on health-boosting breast milk by supplementing nursing sessions with pumping sessions.
Breastfeeding is extremely environmentally friendly.
Manufacturing formula comes with a few environmental costs, including water and energy usage and waste from packaging. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, doesn’t use much in the way of resources, doesn’t produce carbon emissions, and leaves nothing wasted. It also suppresses ovulation, which helps maintain sustainable family growth. One UK study found that if all babies were breastfed for just six months in the UK alone, “the carbon emission savings would equate to removing between 50,000 and 77,500 cars from the road for a year. This data holds true, even when you take into consideration the small additional dietary demands of breastfeeding for the woman.”
Despite all these benefits, many mothers still struggle with breastfeeding.
It’s not unusual for moms to face challenges like poor latch, engorgement, or low milk supply, especially during the early phases of breastfeeding. It’s important to remember that breastfeeding is a learned skill for both you and your baby, and it can take time to get the hang of it. In some cases, exclusive breastfeeding simply isn’t in the cards. However, your baby can still have many of the same benefits of exclusive breastfeeding by incorporating pumping into you schedule. Modern breast pumps are so discreet that you can wear them at work without raising eyebrows. Get in touch with our mom-led team to learn more!