Before I ever got pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. In my college class, Infant and Family Mental Health, we discussed all the benefits of breastfeeding which helped me to stick with my decision. Things people do not tell you or talk about is how breastfeeding can be a painful process (at least in the beginning). When I first started breastfeeding, it was a painless, but stressful experience trying to get my baby to latch on and having a nurse telling me what to do. Then there was the stress of making sure my baby was eating every 3-4 hours. Something I also did not know was that your breasts can become engorged which makes it so your baby cannot latch on (also painful). During these stress filled times, I questioned why I was even doing this.
I am glad I have stuck it out though because now it does not hurt and it is great to have that one-on-one/skin on skin time with my baby.
Here are some benefits I have learned from experience and discovered in my research:
Benefits for Mom:
- Burns calories! Hence making it easier to lose weight (this was a huge factor for me, all my older sisters who have breastfed, lost their baby weight within a month or two).
- Helps uterus return back to its normal size and reduce bleeding ( I haven’t even reached my 2nd week of postpartum and already I am only bleeding a little to none).
- Reduces the risk of breast cancer (this was something new that I learned).
- Can lessen or sometimes even alleviate postpartum depression. (My first week of postpartum, I could cry about anything and felt really inadequate. It has helped to talk about it and I feel that since I have been breastfeeding, my sadness has gone away).
- It is free!! Lets be honest, I have been spending a good hunk of cash on diapers, who wants to spend that on formula?
Benefits for Baby:
- Healthier- meaning baby is not sick as much because they are receiving mom’s antibodies for sicknesses. My sister (who is an RN in labor and delivery) always says that mom will get sick before baby ever does (when breastfed).
- Lower risk of obesity (I was really surprised about this and need to research the why behind it).
- Have lower incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Are on the road for optimal brain development. I think this is due to the skin on skin (promote brain development as well as releases chemicals in the brain).
- Get nutrients that help strengthen and develop their immune system (which goes back to not getting sick). My sister (again the RN) says that her youngest never got sick until she stopped breastfeeding her.