What are the benefits to breastfeeding?

Women's Care
Dec 16, 2016

Congratulations, you’re expecting a baby! You’ve got so many decisions to make from a birth plan to your baby’s name to discovering the sex of your baby or not.

How are you going to feed this baby? We strongly suggest breastfeeding. There are many benefits for both mom and baby, says Delphine De Mauro, international board certified lactation consultant at St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months, meaning no other food or formula other than mom’s milk. After six months, De Mauro says parents can add other foods in addition to continuing breastfeeding for at least another six months.

“(Breastfeeding) is a good journey,” De Mauro said. “Everyone should try it, given the opportunity.”

Benefits of breastfeeding for babies

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It provides many advantages compared with formula. De Mauro lists some of the benefits babies see from breastfeeding:

  • A great source of nutrition because your milk contains just the right amount of nutrients.
  • Moms make antibodies that are found in breast milk and those living cells protect the baby against infections. It’s a known fact that breastfed babies have fewer infections, such as respiratory and ear infections, as well as diarrhea and other stomach and digestive ailments.
  • Breastfeeding also can protect against diseases kids are susceptible to later in life such as asthma, diabetes and certain cancers.
  • Breastfeeding aids in appropriate infant growth
  • Bonding time between mom and baby
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese in life because they learn to be self-limiting. They eat what they want, when they are hungry, and they stop when they are full. When there’s someone on the other end of the bottle, a baby is going to keep going because the formula keeps flowing and they have to keep eating in order not to choke.
  • Breastfed babies have shown to have higher IQs. That may be because breast milk is the perfect fat and protein content for the development of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Breastfeeding keeps babies calm
  • It slows down their respiratory rate
  • Keeps up their blood sugars
  • Keeps them warm

Benefits for breastfeeding for moms

Breastfeeding is instinctive to babies, but not so much to moms, says De Mauro. Many moms can find it awkward and uncomfortable, but that’s no reason to skip the breastfeeding experience. De Mauro offers these benefits to moms for breastfeeding:

  • Same as baby, the bonding experience between mom and baby during breastfeeding is irreplaceable.
  • Breastfeeding can be empowering, especially for young moms lacking in confidence
  • Breastfeeding saves money
  • Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly
  • Breastfeeding boosts mom’s metabolism because her body is busy making milk 24/7, even when she’s sleeping. Breastfeeding burns about the same amount of calories as moms’ experience growing the baby, but instead of getting bigger every day, you are getting smaller.
  • Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to a normal size quicker.
  • Breastfeeding can help prevent certain cancers later in life, specifically breast and ovarian.
  • It’s free
  • Breast milk is always ready

Get the support you need to breastfeed

De Mauro says most moms start off breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding rates continue to rise in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, of moms that start breastfeeding in the hospital, nearly 20 percent don’t continue at home. Of those that do breastfeed, nearly half are not reaching the recommended six month period of exclusive breastfeeding and only about 27 percent of moms are still breastfeeding at 12 months.

De Mauro strongly recommends education for moms that want to breastfeed and continue the process to best benefit her and the baby. She suggests taking a class, talking to your OB or nurse practitioner about it and even talking to your mom, if she breastfed.

The St. Joseph’s/Candler Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital offers several lactation services. These include:

  • Prenatal breastfeeding classes held each month. (Link to next class)
  • In-hospital, post-birth assistance
  • Telephone Warm-Line dedicated to assisting mothers-to-be and breastfeeding moms and babies with any questions or concerns they have. The Breastfeeding Warm-Line is staffed every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling 912-819-8231.
  • Outpatient consultations
  • Educational materials
  • Breast pump information
  • A courtesy call post-discharge to give you an opportunity to ask any feeding questions
  • Free Mommy and Me Breastfeeding Support Group which meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Telfair BirthPlace, Candler Hospital, 3rd Floor North Classroom.

While we do recommend breast feeding, we also understand that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and in fact, some women are physically unable to breastfeed. How you choose to feed your child is a personal and respected choice.

If you choose not to breastfeed, there are many formula selections available. Talk to your physician about other options to feeding. 

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