The Benefits of Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding can be fraught with challenges, especially in the beginning, it is the best source of nutrition for your baby. Your body naturally produces food that is specially formulated just for your little bundle of joy, and one of the perks is that it’s free. Breast milk contains disease-fighting antibodies that protect your baby from illness, and it is packed with nutrients designed for growth and development.

Biology has bestowed upon you the ultimate in baby health food. Your breast milk contains docasahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, as well as cholesterol, both of which are necessary for brain growth and development in infants. Research shows that on average, children who were breastfed have higher IQ levels and do better in school than formula-fed babies. Doctors attribute this finding to DHA in breast milk.

In addition to brain-boosting benefits, breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of childhood cancer, respiratory problems, ear infections, tonsillitis, gastrointestinal infections, and diarrhea. Visual acuity is also better in breastfed babies.

Besides the health benefits to your baby, breastfeeding has some health benefits for you as well. Mothers who breastfeed tend to lose more weight than mothers who formula feed, particularly in the first six months. Estrogen production in the body is low while you are breastfeeding. The result is a reduced risk for breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. The release of the hormone oxytocin that triggers the breast milk to let down, also makes the uterus contract, which helps to prevent postpartum hemorrhage and causes the uterus to shrink to its pre-pregnancy size. DHA, breast milk, disease prevention

Health benefits aside, breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby as you snuggle, study each other, and grow together in your new roles as mother and baby.

At Medical Center of Arlington, we can help you during your pregnancy and help you prepare for the birth of your baby. To learn more, visit us online or use our physician directory service.

Sources:

Breastfeeding (WomensHealth.gov)

Benefits of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International)

Related Posts:

9 Tips to Make Breastfeeding Easier

Free Pregnancy Testing Center

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