In recent years in the UK there has been significant campaigning advocating the idea that breast milk is best for your baby. That’s because there have been several hundred studies in the last few decades that indicate that breast milk may have some health benefits to both you and your child. As a result, the NHS reports that in 2010 81% of new mothers start feeding their baby by breastfeeding in the UK, which is a much higher rate than in the 1970s and 1980s when formula was more popular.
If you are thinking about which method to choose for feeding your baby, then you may find the following information about the possible benefits of breastfeeding helpful.
Benefits To You
Lots of new mothers are already aware that breastfeeding is reported to have numerous health benefits for their babies, but there have been several studies that indicate that there are also benefits for you, as well.
Women who breastfeed have been shown to have lower rates of Ovarian and Breast Cancer. One study by Rosenblatt KA et al. (1993) suggested that women who lactated for two months or more decreased their risk of Ovarian Cancer by up to 25%. Furthermore, the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer (2002) looked at 47 different studies into breast cancer and concluded that even after taking account of other effects such as age, ethnicity, and location, women who breastfeed had a 4.3% decrease in risk of developing breast cancer for every 12 months that they breastfed.
In addition, there have been some studies that suggest that women who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from postnatal depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, although further studies are required in these areas to rule out any other factors.
Breastfeeding also burns up a lot of calories, with some estimates indicating around 500 calories a day. This means that many women find that the baby weight simply falls away after a few weeks or months of nursing their babies. So, don’t be afraid to stock up on snacks when nursing!
Many women who breastfeed report a feeling of pride that they are able to nurture their baby and provide him or her with the best possible start. It’s also a wonderful bonding experience and of course, unlike formula, which costs on average £450 a year, it’s free, saving you money that you can spend elsewhere. Finally, it’s also very portable, in that you don’t have to carry around bottles, formula powder, and sterilisers with you every time you travel, as you already have everything you need available.
Benefits To Your Baby
There have been a great number of studies into the benefits of breastfeeding for babies. Firstly, research has shown that breastfed babies are less likely to develop certain health conditions, including infections affecting the respiratory system, digestive system, urinary tract, and ears, many of which are common childhood complaints. Your breastmilk contains antibodies, which can fight off common ailments with ease, and these are passed to your baby.
Other research suggests that babies who are breastfeed are less likely to develop allergic diseases, such as asthma and eczema, and they are less likely to develop diabetes or become obese later in life. Some studies suggest that children who are breastfed have a decreased risk of developing food allergies and intolerances. Research also indicates that babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, also known as Cot Death).
In addition to having a preventative effect against various health conditions, it’s thought that breastfed babies have improved brain development and slightly higher levels of intelligence as rated by IQ level. Breastfed babies may also have improved levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.
It’s also thought that babies who are breastfed are less likely to be fussy eaters. This is because breast milk often contains faint traces of the flavours of the food that the mother has recently eaten, thus exposing the baby to a variety of different tastes.
Finally, breastfeeding is very calming and comforting for the baby, and can help your baby feel better during times of illness or distress.