As a newly pregnant mother, you often hear different ideas about how you should feed your baby. People may even ask you what your plans are for feeding him/her. Unfortunately, in the United States especially, we live in a bottle-feeding society. We don’t watch women breastfeeding their children as other cultures do.
But, no researcher or study can deny that breastfeeding is best for your baby. And, the advantages of breastfeeding go beyond just nourishing your baby. It also provides amazing physical, emotional, and mental health benefits for you as a mama.
When I got pregnant with my son, Gunnar, I knew right away what my plan was for feeding him. In fact, before I was even pregnant, I longed for that relationship with my baby. The emotional difference between moms that feed their baby a bottle and breastfeed their baby is obvious in my opinion.
You can see the difference in the amount of pleasure when they are breastfeeding their baby; the bond is undeniable. And even if you have to go back to work or school after the first few weeks or so, providing your baby with the opportunity to breastfeed initially, and then bottle feed with breast milk is still a great option!
I worked full time while my son was just 3 months old, so I get it! It is not easy! But like most mothers, you make sacrifices and find ways to make it work because it’s best for your health and your baby’s health.
It’s important to recognize your mental health is the first priority though, so if you can’t breastfeed because you can’t emotionally or mentally handle it, then have grace on yourself. It’s okay not to breastfeed, but, my goal is to help educate mothers like you on all the amazing benefits so you can make the most informed decision.
Tips for your Partner
If you’re worried about your partner feeling left out, talk about other things he can do to make sure he understands breastfeeding is best. For example, he can give your baby a bath, carry the baby in a baby carrier, talk and sing to the baby, etc.). You can also give your partner a list of helpful tasks that will help you and your baby, like chores around the house, making meals, snacks, grabbing your water while you nurse, etc. He will feel like an important part of the equation if you can include him.
The advantages of breastfeeding, and why breastfeeding is best, are far-reaching, and I’ve highlighted some of my favorite reasons here.
10 Reasons Why Breastfeeding is Best
- Breastfeeding helps you feel relaxed and satisfied. Hormones are released when breastfeeding, as your milk flows. Beta endorphins are released, helping you to feel good. A hormone called cholecystokinin is released also helping you to feel satisfied. As a result, it reduces the stress hormones associated with anxiety-driven situations.
- Maternal feelings are developed. If you’re worried about feeling maternal once your baby is born, breastfeeding will help that! The hormones associated with breastfeeding help a new mama feel maternal. This is important, especially as you bring a new baby into the world. “Mama Bear” is a real thing. It helps you protect your new baby and care for him/her as they enter the world. Your baby will be attached to you for the first several weeks, and that’s okay! You’ll find your rhythm and everything will become more pleasurable.
- It helps you feel important and fulfilled. Breastfeeding is a fulfilling experience that allows you to be full of pride for the rest of your life. No one else can provide the same breast milk or other nourishment that you can; you are important for your baby!
- Fully breastfed babies are rarely sick. They can get sick, don’t get me wrong, but the chances are much less. When they do get sick, they get over it much faster, and it doesn’t last for nearly as long. The antibodies in your milk pass to the baby, allowing your baby’s immune system to stay stronger. This also means fewer trips to the doctor’s office.
- It helps your baby’s digestive system. Breastfed babies have less diarrhea, constipation, and spitting up. They also have more regular bowel movements. Breastmilk is very easy to digest and easy on your new infant’s tummy. The bowel movements are less smelly, and if they do spit up, it’s not as often or as much, and it doesn’t stain! I can count on my hands the number of times my son spit up- it was not many!
- Mothers of breastfed babies get more sleep. This is one of the best benefits for a sleep-deprived mama. You will be tending to your baby, and you will be sleep deprived for the first few weeks. Your baby should be nursing on demand, likely 8-12 times on average during a 24 hour period. This means the less bottle preparation you have to do the better! Breastfeeding is best because your milk is always ready for your baby, and always at the right temperature. Many studies have shown that breastfeeding moms sleep better and longer. It’s also just more convenient, especially when you’re out of the home with your baby and your baby is hungry.
- Breastfeeding is better for the earth. If you’re eco-conscious, you’ll be glad to know that you are saving significant resources by choosing to breastfeed your baby. Here are just a few things you’ve saved: pounds of steel from formula cans, pounds of paper and plastic packaging, pounds of plastic milk containers, gallons of milk which require millions of pounds of dairy feed to produce.
- Breastfeeding saves a ton of money. The average family breastfeeding one child saves between $2-4 thousand dollars a year! That’s a lot of money that you could use on vacation, or doing other fun things with your family. It’s the least expensive option to nourish your baby
- Mothers who breastfeed are healthier in the long run. Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to get breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and others. This is because, during pregnancy and lactation, you are exposed to less estrogen, which may promote cancer cell growth. If you breastfeed for at least 6 months, your chances of these diseases drop dramatically and the longer you breastfeed, the better.
- Breastfeeding helps you get your figure back. Your uterus contracts every breastfeeding session. This helps your body return to its pre-pregnancy shape. Nursing also helps reset your metabolism to pre-pregnancy status. You also burn calories (some research says up to 500/day!) producing milk for your baby. This is incredible, and if you add in a little bit of light exercise after you’re cleared by your doctor, you’ll be back in those skinny jeans in no time!
Breastfeeding is best for so many reasons I did not even cover. Although 80 percent of pregnant women in the United States intend to breastfeed, only about 40 percent continue as long as they intended, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some of the main reasons mamas stop early are because of a poor latch, nipple pain, and concerns about milk production. I know it’s not always easy, but I’m here for you if you need support or coaching. I can help guide you through some of these common concerns so you can feel confident in your breastfeeding journey!
Let me know which factors influenced or encouraged you to breastfeed your baby in the comments below!