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The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Both Mother and Baby

Breastfeeding has health benefits for both the mother and baby. The nutrition and growth that breast milk provides to a baby are ideal for the development of the baby. The benefits of breastfeeding include protecting the baby and mother against certain illnesses.

Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding

Make healthy choices to fuel your milk production. Choose protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, and seafood with low mercury levels. Fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, should be included in your diet.

Breast milk will taste different if you eat a variety of foods while breastfeeding. As a result, your baby will be exposed to different tastes, which will make it easier for them to accept solid foods in the future.

You might need to continue taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement until your baby is weaned to ensure you and your baby are getting all the vitamins you need.

mother happy with infant child in hospital bed

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mother

  • Reducing her breast cancer risk.
  • Reducing her ovarian cancer risk.
  • Reducing her risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Burning calories and using mom’s fat stores for her breast milk.
  • Producing oxytocin, which helps contract the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size.
  • Saving money, since breastfeeding is free.
  • Lowering her chance of developing postpartum depression, since breastfeeding allows pregnancy hormones to reduce slowly, instead of abruptly.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby

Breast milk contains live immunity. When a baby consumes breast milk, they receive both immediate and lifelong immunities. Breast milk provides the specific nutrients that meet your baby’s needs.

Here are other benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Can reduce your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Can reduce your baby’s risk of developing middle ear infections, allergies, and diabetes, since breast milk contains no artificial sugar.
  • Allows babies to feel close to the home base that they’ve known while in the womb. Hearing your heartbeat and feeling your warm skin will help her transition from the inner world to the outer world.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in breast milk, helps support proper brain development.

How Breastfeeding Can Be Challenging

The process of breastfeeding isn’t always easy. The process of learning this skill may take some time for new moms and babies. Breastfeeding is a new concept for many women of childbearing age, either because their mothers didn’t do it, or because other women in their lives didn’t do it either. There will be times when difficulties arise. After delivery, you’ll be exhausted and sore, and your baby will likely want to eat several times a night in the middle of the night for the first few weeks. The belly of your baby is about the size of a nickel.

The first couple of weeks is a time when the baby requires small, frequent feedings. Breastfed babies typically eat eight to twelve times in 24 hours. Lactation consultants can help you determine whether or not your baby is getting enough milk. Your milk production may seem inadequate at first, but it will increase.

Another time breastfeeding can be challenging is when your baby is not latching properly. A good latch means better milk transfer and less pain and discomfort for you. If you’re still experiencing nipple pain for more than two minutes into a feeding after two weeks of feeding, contact a board-certified lactation consultant for help.

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