As a new mother, you want the best for your baby. Breastfeeding your child will not only bring you closer to your baby but also provide the baby with the essential nutrients that the breast milk contains.
Formula milk is certainly convenient but breastfeeding your baby should be your first choice. In addition to saving time and money, breastfeeding can make your baby healthier, reduce the risk of infections and diseases, and also make the bond between you and your child stronger. However, some women are advised not to breastfeed due to certain illnesses.
Here are 5 lesser-known benefits of breastfeeding:
1. Promotes Post-Delivery Healing
The uterus expands during pregnancy. During breastfeeding, oxytocin is released. It contracts the milk sacs in your breast, allowing the milk to excrete from the nipple. Oxytocin also causes contraction of the uterus post-pregnancy.1
Breastfeeding after childbirth can help the uterus return to its original size and also reduces blood loss.2
2. Helps You Lose Weight
Weight gain during pregnancy is natural but dieting to shed those extra pounds is not advisable. When breastfeeding is doing the job, why compromise on your food?
Breastfeeding can help you burn calories, in turn promoting weight loss. There may not be rapid weight loss but it happens gradually. Wait for about 2 months after delivery, till the milk supply is normal before you start cutting down.3 After consulting your doctor, exercise and eat healthy to see positive results.
3. Makes The Bond Stronger
While breastfeeding, the mother is in close contact with her baby. This physical comfort and closeness make the bond between the baby and mother stronger.
Oxytocin released during breastfeeding relaxes you and promotes nurturing. This also improves the bonding by activating certain brain regions associated with bonding.4
4. Reduces Risk Of Depression
Post-partum depression is a type of mood disorder that occurs after childbirth. it may cause insomnia, irritability, appetite loss, and difficulty in bonding with the baby. Studies show that mothers who breastfeed are at a lower risk of post-partum depression than the ones who don’t.5
Oxytocin is responsible for the associated between breastfeeding and post-partum depression. It can also reduce stress levels.
5. Supports Your Child’s Brain Development
Breast milk has positive effects on the child’s IQ and brain development. It facilitates brain development, especially in preterm babies. Also, longer duration of breastfeeding can benefit cognitive development.6 7
Children who were breastfed were seen to have higher scores on cognition and neurodevelopment tests. They have higher IQ scores. Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of your child developing learning disorders.8
|↑1||Prevost, Marie, Phyllis Zelkowitz, Togas Tulandi, Barbara Hayton, Nancy Feeley, C. Sue Carter, Lawrence Joseph et al. “Oxytocin in pregnancy and the postpartum: relations to labor and its management.” Frontiers in public health 2 (2014).|
|↑2||Polomeno, Viola. “Sex and breastfeeding: An educational perspective.” The Journal of perinatal education 8, no. 1 (1999): 30.|
|↑3||Losing weight after pregnancy. U.S National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Febo, Marcelo, Michael Numan, and Craig F. Ferris. “Functional magnetic resonance imaging shows oxytocin activates brain regions associated with mother–pup bonding during suckling.” Journal of Neuroscience 25, no. 50 (2005): 11637-11644.|
|↑5||Hamdan, Aisha, and Hani Tamim. “The relationship between postpartum depression and breastfeeding.” The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 43, no. 3 (2012): 243-259.|
|↑6||Vohr, Betty R., Brenda B. Poindexter, Anna M. Dusick, Leslie T. McKinley, Linda L. Wright, John C. Langer, and W. Kenneth Poole. “Beneficial effects of breast milk in the neonatal intensive care unit on the developmental outcome of extremely low birth weight infants at 18 months of age.” Pediatrics 118, no. 1 (2006): e115-e123.|
|↑7||Isaacs, Elizabeth B., Bruce R. Fischl, Brian T. Quinn, Wui K. Chong, David G. Gadian, and Alan Lucas. “Impact of breast milk on IQ, brain size and white matter development.” Pediatric research 67, no. 4 (2010): 357.|
|↑8||Angelsen, N. K., T. Vik, G. Jacobsen, and L. S. Bakketeig. “Breast feeding and cognitive development at age 1 and 5 years.” Archives of disease in childhood 85, no. 3 (2001): 183-188.|