September 23, 2021 by John Fernandez and Bethany Rundell
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Both Baby and Mom
Breastfeeding has long been known for its nutritional advantages for the baby as clinical studies continue to reaffirm the health benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mom.
Breast milk boosts the immune systems of infants, giving them the best natural building blocks for healthy growth. Another benefit of breastfeeding is the “skin-to-skin” contact that happens naturally. “Skin-to-skin” refers to the infant only having a diaper on next to mom’s bare chest.
World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration, August 1-7, held in more than 120 countries. UNICEF and the World Health Organization are calling on governments and all employers to adopt family-friendly policies that support breastfeeding.
“Providing breast milk is like a giving your baby a daily vaccine,” said Maureen Pahl, R.N, a lactation consultant at South Miami Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Breast milk actually ignites the premature infant’s immune system. It contains Immunity, live cells and the nutrients that cannot be replicated in formula. It’s species specific (for humans from humans) and contains bioactive ingredients. Research has also shown that breastfeeding increases maternal bonding and enhances brain growth.”
The baby isn’t the only one who gets the benefit. Mom does too.
Several medical authorities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly recommend breastfeeding.
Breast milk provides an excellent mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow. And breast milk is normally digested easily by infants, more so than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding also lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies.
The benefits for mom include:
- Closer relationships between mom and baby
- Reduces the risk of postpartum depression
- Lowers stress
- Less risk of ovarian cancer
- Helps burn off pregnancy weight
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
It’s best to prepare for breastfeeding before the baby comes. Baptist Health South Florida offers many childbirth classes leading up to your pregnancy including Basics of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding for Working Moms. For more information, go to BaptistHealth.net. Or you can go online to consult with a Board-certified doctor via Baptist Health’s Care On Demand.