For some mothers, health problems or essential medications make it impossible to breastfeed. However, if you are capable of breastfeeding your baby then it is important to know that there is a huge amount of evidence that shows that breastfeeding is best for both you and your child. There are significant physical and psychological health benefits to be enjoyed, so read on to learn everything you need to know about the twelve most amazing and compelling reasons why you should choose to breastfeed your baby.
1) Breastfeeding makes you less likely to suffer from cancer:
A wide range of studies strongly suggest that women who do not breastfeed or who only breastfeed for less than three months are more than 10% more likely to develop some form of breast cancer in the future. In addition, emerging research supports the claim that breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk of developing certain reproductive cancers (such as endometrial and ovarian cancers) in later life.
2) Breastfeeding can help you to lose weight:
There are multiple reasons why women who breastfeed tend to find it easier to attain a slimmer figure. Firstly, the process of lactation causes your uterus to shrink at a faster rate, and so you are more likely to return to your pre-pregnancy weight sooner after giving birth. Secondly, breastfeeding can burn up to a staggering 500 extra calories every day, thereby helping you to shed unwanted pounds.
3) Children who are breastfed may be more intelligent:
Although the causal mechanism is as yet unknown, multiple studies on the cognitive benefits of breastfeeding have discovered that children who are breastfed as babies tend to test as being more intelligent in later life. Such children typically attain higher scores on IQ tests and achieve higher grades on assignments.
4) Breastfeeding can lead to better dental health for your child:
The act of suckling during breastfeeding helps to tone your baby’s facial muscles, making them stronger and improving jaw alignment. As a result, breastfed children are less likely to require braces during their teenage or adult years.
5) Breastfeeding makes female children less likely to develop breast cancer in later life:
In 1994, a group of medical researchers discovered that women who were not breastfed were up to 25% more likely to suffer from some type of breast cancer at some point in adulthood.
6) Breastfeeding facilitates bonding between you and your baby:
You may have heard of oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’ in explanations of the chemical mechanisms that bond romantic partners. This same hormone is produced when you breastfeed your child, and the flood of oxytocin encourages lactation while also promoting feelings of contentment. Cradling your baby during breastfeeding also helps to make your baby feel safe and secure, so the bonding works in both directions.
7) Breastfeeding makes you less likely to develop osteoporosis in later life:
Elderly women commonly suffer from osteoporosis (or brittle bones), but choosing to breastfeed now may help to prevent you from developing this problem when you are older. More specifically, studies have shown that mothers who choose not to breastfeed their babies are approximately four times more likely to develop osteoporosis.
8) Breastfeeding could improve your baby’s respiratory health:
Studies on reducing childhood asthma have shown that children who were breastfed have a lower risk of developing the typical asthma symptoms (e.g. wheezing, chest tightness and low tolerance of exercise).
9) Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s chance of developing digestive problems:
Children who are breastfed are much less likely to suffer from Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. Although it is as yet unclear why this link exists between breastfeeding and digestive health, research is ongoing and continues to establish that previous studies were correct to notice a correlation.
10) Breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of sleep problems:
Both you and your baby are less likely to suffer from insomnia if you choose to breastfeed, because breast milk contains chemicals that soothe your baby to sleep. Many mothers will attest to the fact that a calm, sleepy baby encourages them to fall asleep as well.
11) Breastfeeding helps to improve your baby’s immune function:
Breastfeeding helps to boost your child’s immune system because of some unique and powerful properties of breast milk. Specifically, a mother’s milk contains lymphocytes and macrophages, which in turn produce disease-fighting antibodies that help to protect your baby from viral and bacterial infections.
12) Breastfeeding reduces your child’s likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis:
Finally, research on arthritis in the younger population has shown that children who were breastfed as babies are up to 60% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis in their childhood or teenage years.
Although it is obvious that breastfeeding your child can improve your health as well as your baby’s health, it is important to reiterate the fact that there are certain circumstances in which breastfeeding is never appropriate. For example, if you are seriously ill then you may put your baby at risk of catching your bacterial or viral infection, and it is also vital to ask your doctor whether any medications you are taking are compatible with safely.