When it comes to caring for babies, there are a lot of things to consider to ensure they grow up happy and healthy. How you bond with them, how you dress them, what you feed them, all of it contributes to the overall health of your child. A very important part of your babies’ early development starts with the decision to breastfeed. There are many different opinions on whether or not you should do it, but there are many benefits to consider for you and your child if you do.
Women in the Arlington, Texas area considering breastfeeding their child have Dr. Joan Bergstrom and the many doctors at Women’s Health Services to count on for answering questions and providing care.
Many medical experts recommend breastfeeding (either nursing directly from the breast or feeding breast milk from a bottle) for the first six months and using it through the first year of your baby’s life while introducing other foods. Here are some of the many benefits you and your child will get through this method.
Benefits for the baby
Breast milk is filled with enzymes and nutrients that help your child that other formulas and baby foods can’t provide. It gives your baby the benefit of your fully developed immune system filled with antioxidants, antibodies, and many other immune properties. This helps to give your baby:
- A stronger immune system
- Fewer respiratory illnesses like colds
- Fewer infections
- Reduced cases of infant mortality, Sudden Death Infant Syndrome (SIDS), and bacterial meningitis
- Better vision
- Fewer illnesses, leading to less hospitalization
Immunoglobulin A is a blood protein your breast milk gives your baby that coats the intestinal lining and helps with germs and allergens. Breast milk also has substances to soothe infants. It can continue to help your child throughout their childhood by lowering chances of allergies, eczema, childhood cancers, types I and II diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and colitis.
Benefits for you
In addition to the benefits to your child, your breastfeeding can also positively impact you. Breastfeeding helps you by burning extra calories from the effort of producing the milk for your baby (about 500 calories a day). In addition, it also:
- Stimulates the uterus to contract, returning it to normal size
- Reduces postpartum bleeding
- Improves mood to reduce the chance of postpartum depression
- Reduces urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Reduces risk of anemia
Breastfeeding also provides emotional benefits for you. It produces hormones that relax you such as oxytocin and prolactin, which can keep you stay calmer longer. It can also reduce your chances of conditions like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
Benefits for both
The act of breastfeeding creates a stronger bond between mother and child, which benefits both the short term and long term. Breast-fed babies tend to cry less, and the bonding provides more holding and stroking of the child. Speculation suggests that this early positive relationship helps your child have fewer social and behavioral issues as they get older. This is also likely shaped by the trust that forms between you and your child which can help create trust for other caregivers as your child grows.
It also makes traveling easier, as feeding is the least of your concerns at this stage. Breast milk is always at the right temperature and is provided as needed. And you will save lots of money on buying food for your child in their first year.
Your child needs all the help they can get starting things outright, and breastfeeding is a safe and effective way to provide benefits you can’t get any other way. If you’re expecting, or just need help with breastfeeding, make an appointment with Dr. Bergstrom and Women’s Health Services today to get help.