What are the benefits of breastfeeding?breastfeeding illustration

Breastmilk is the first, most perfect food for your baby. To breastfeed your newborn is not only to nourish him but to form a tight bond between the two of you. Benefits of breastfeeding go beyond the mere physiology. Nourishing your baby this way satisfies a lot of emotional and spiritual needs as well.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby:

1. According to the WHO website , breastmilk is the most natural and safe  form of nutrition for a baby. Breastmilk has all the nutrients that a baby needs to develop healthy. It contains antibodies that help protect  from many childhood diseases including diarrhea, pneumonia, flu and respiratory infections.

2. Long term benefits of breast feeding include lower rates of obesity, type-1 and type-2 diabetes, lower risk of developing allergies, asthma, multiple sclerosis, lower cholesterol levels and overall better health. There is also evidence that breastfeeding boosts brain power in children.

3. Breast milk is rich in antibodies and stem cells that help protect the child from various illnesses and health problems. Also, breastmilk contains over 700 species of beneficial bacteria and boosts growth of beneficial bacteria in the baby’s gut that help absorb nutrients and develop his immune system.

4. Infant formula does not contain antibodies and same beneficial bacteria as breastmilk and therefore, cannot satisfy all of child’s needs.

5. Breastfeeding satisfies emotional needs of a child, need for close skin-to-skin contact, safety. It helps bond with the mother, which in itself stimulates growth, boosts brain power and contributes to the whole wellbeing of a child.

6. Breastfeeding is soothing and helps the baby fall asleep easily. During an illness, breastfeeding is a great way to hydrate the baby, soothe him and provide him with all the nutrients that his body needs to recover.

7. Breastmilk production is catered to the child needs in its nutritional content and quantity based on the baby’s current age and health requirements. Formula cannot provide this option in the same way breastmilk does.

8. There is evidence that suggests that breastfeeding boosts brain power in children due essential fatty acids which are good for cell development and brain power.

9. Breastmilk is an effective natural remedy for ear infections, pink eye, burns, cuts, eczema, and many other things.

10. Breastfeeding contributes to better dental health, helps correct jaw, teeth and speech development and overall facial development.


Benefits of breastfeeding for a toddler:

According to the La Leche League website, expended breastfeeding or breastfeeding beyond one year has it’s benefits.

1.Nutritional and health benefits. Breastmilk provides additional immunity and nutrition to the toddler and protects him against diseases and allergies.

2. Satisfies emotional needs for closeness and reassurance, thus providing a child with a secure, comfortable environment where his needs are met and he is not forced into early independence.

3. In the even of an illness, breastmilk might be the only food your toddler can tolerate, which makes it very useful.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding up to two years at least.


Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother:

1. Helps prevent breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and other conditions.

2. Facilitates faster postpartum recovery and weight loss.

3. Prevents and helps recover from postpartum depression easier.

4. Provides  a natural form of birth control.

5.  Helps bond with your baby.

6. Breastmilk is affordable and easy to maintain with proper nutrition and nursing techniques.

7. Breastfeeding saves time and is much easier to do on the go.

Lactation Consultant

Lactation Consultant


What is a lactation consultant and how can they help me?

According to the International Lactation Consultant Association website, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional that specializes in the clinical management of  breastfeeding. IBCLCs are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners under the direction of the US National Commission for Certifying Agencies. IBCLCs work in a variety of health care settings including hospitals, pediatric offices, public health clinics, and private practice.

According to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card for 2013, 77% of infants begin breastfeeding. It is the highest number so far. Although, in 2010 only 49% of infants were still breastfed at 6 months.  Even though the rates of breastfeeding are going up in this country, a lot of work still remains to be done to support young mothers, so that more babies are breastfed and continued to breastfeed beyond 6 months. Proper emotional and informational support is essential for that. This is where lactation consultants come in.

Benefits of using an IBCLC:

  • Prenatal counseling about risk factors that may affect breastfeeding
  • Basic position and latch of the infant
  • Information about practices that promote successful breastfeeding
  • Preventing and managing common concerns such as poor latch, inadequate milk transfer or supply, nipple or breast pain, and calming a fussy baby
  • Milk expression and storage for mothers who must be separated from their babies
  • Strategies for breastfeeding after returning to work
  • Breastfeeding in challenging situations, such as breastfeeding twins or triplets, a premature or sick infant, or infants in special medical situations

If a lactation consultant is not affordable,  La Leche League International can provide a free lactation consultation through its local chapter leaders.