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Proven benefits of breastfeeding that mamas need to know
There are truly a ton of proven benefits of breastfeeding for our babies. I mean if it didn’t our bodies wouldn’t be able to turn into freakin’ milk machines!
Now, before I had our son I actually didn’t want or plan to breastfeed. I thought it was weird and awkward.
I know now that I just wasn’t educated enough in all these benefits breastfeeding has for our babies AND for us mamas!
We struggled hard to breastfeed. I honestly hated it and wanted to quit. I utilized every option I could think of and could find until we finally came out successful.
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Now, I do know that some women cannot breastfeed for various reasons. I also know that some people are only able to use formula.
So listen, we’ve used formula too! And truthfully, I do believe that a fed baby is better than not feeding at all.
However, I also do believe that if possible, breastfeeding is ultimately best.
Now, I’m not here to try and tell you to breastfeed. I am going to share some of the proven benefits of breastfeeding, in fact, the ones I consider to be some of the most important for us moms and our babies!
The antibodies from mother to baby are irreplaceable, one of the many proven benefits of breastfeeding.
It’s been shown time and time again that breastfed babies gain extra protection from antibodies, other proteins and immune cells from breast milk.
Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the main antibody found in your breast milk. It is one of the most studied immunoglobulins of breast milk and also one of the most important!
How does IgA function to help the baby? IgA helps to protect your little one from various illnesses (bacterial, viruses, parasites, etc…). IgA also helps to block & prevent germs from entering your baby’s sensitive body like their respiratory & intestinal tract.
Why does this information matter? It matters because when babies are born, they have very low levels of IgA. As they get older, their bodies begin to work hard to produce more, but if they’re breastfed, they have a strong advantage of getting IgA from your (mommy’s) breast milk!
Other benefits of IgA. IgA has also been shown to be a crucial matter for preemie babies! Allowing them to build up their antibodies strong & fast all thanks to their mama’s breast milk.
In addition, if your baby is sick and breastfeeds, your body can adjust its breast milk chemical compound believed to be signaled through baby’s saliva coming in contact with the breast so that you send even more antibodies to your baby to help them fight off their illness.
Honestly, a woman’s body is quite incredible if you ask me. If you couldn’t tell, this is my FAVORITE proven benefit of breastfeeding!
Breast milk is easier to digest for baby.
Breast milk is composed of 2 main proteins: Whey protein and casein protein.
Similar to adults, whey protein is significantly much easier to digest, which is why it’s no surprise that breast milk naturally contains far more whey protein than casein for baby.
This is what makes breast milk easier to digest for baby!
Fortunately, over time, more and more formulas have been formulated to contain a whey protein to casein protein ratio that is similar to breast milk in terms of digestion.
I know from personal experience, our son had a really tough time digesting formula. We tried various brands and couldn’t find the right one for him which is why, despite all our uphill battle to breastfeed, we stuck with it and miraculously made it to 14 months!
If you feel like you could use even MORE information to help you understand breastfeeding, taking an online breastfeeding class, like Milkology, is so beneficial!
Breast milk changes composition to the needs of the infant.
We touched above a little bit about how breast milk can adapt to your sick baby when nursing, but did you know that your breast milk also changes as baby gets older?
When your baby is a newborn, your body will make colostrum. Colostrum is that liquid gold loaded with immunological components to protect your precious bundle of joy.
As baby gets older, your breast milk changes to a more ‘mature milk’ – it still contains all the nutrients and immunological components, but you’ll notice it’s much less concentrated providing a greater volume of milk for your baby.
If you choose to breastfeed into toddlerhood, you’ll notice your milk changing again! As your toddler will likely nurse less and less, your breast milk will start to taper off.
As it tapers off, the nutrient content will begin to get more concentrated so that your little one is still getting enough nutrients with less milk.
In fact, breast milk’s ever-powerful ability to constantly adapt is why the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding to 2 years and beyond!
Now, breastfeeding is NOT easy. I know this first hand. In fact, I found breastfeeding to be, initially, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done (aside from birth).
So just know, even if you breastfed for 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, etc…you did something INCREDIBLE for your little one!
Wondering what side effects mom could face while breastfeeding?? Find out HERE!
Breastfeeding Lowers YOUR risk of breast and ovarian cancer
Research has shown that mothers who have breastfed their baby can actually LOWER YOUR risk of developing breast cancer!
Generally, breastfeeding moms experience hormonal changes that can prevent them from having a menstrual period. This is why sometimes you’ll hear stories of breastfeeding moms going 1+ years without a period! I mean…is that not a perk of its own?
Those hormonal changes can ultimately reduce your overall exposure to hormones like estrogen! Over time, exposure to estrogen can actually promote breast cancer cell growth, so by reducing that exposure, it can prevent that cancerous cell growth!
The concept holds steady for ovarian cancer too. Since you wouldn’t be ovulating, you’d be reducing the exposure to estrogen, therefore, reducing your chances of developing ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding helps your uterus to shrink back to its prepregnancy size
When you breastfeed your baby, your body will secrete oxytocin!
Well, since oxytocin promotes uterine contractions, these contractions are what help to shrink your uterus back down.
This is why if you’ve ever breastfed or are currently breastfeeding, you probably at one point felt those achy low belly cramps during breastfeeding! It’s that darn oxytocin!
Now although this is a benefit, it can be a little uncomfortable and painful.
For me, I’ve always had much more dramatic contracting causing horrendous cramps, so warm towels or warm packs will usually do the trick to alleviate pain, my tip for you if you’re anything like me.
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