Looking for a reason to breastfeed your baby? Here are 10 of them.
Emotional communion. This isn’t some meditation under a tree to find inner peace while chanting mothering mantras kind of emotional communion. It is, according to HealthyChildren.org, a feeling of “fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional communion” a mother experiences while nursing her child.
Hormone production. Part of the reason for emotional communion between mother and baby is the release of hormones such as prolactin, “which produces a peaceful, nurturing sensation that allows you to relax and focus on your child,” and oxytocin, which promotes a sense of attachment and love.
Childbirth recovery. Recovering after childbirth takes time, but there’s good news for breastfeeding mothers. Remember that hormone called oxytocin? In addition to promoting a sense of attachment, it helps return the uterus to normal size more quickly and can help reduce post-partum bleeding.
Disease prevention. HealthyChildren.org notes that breastfeeding moms have fewer instances of type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Contraception. The thought of having another pregnancy soon after giving birth may seem overwhelming. There’s good news: Breastfeeding delays the return of the mother’s menstrual cycle and may reduce the chance of becoming pregnant again. According to La Leche League International, it is still possible to become pregnant even while breastfeeding and with the absence of a period, but breastfeeding can be used in family planning.
Nutrition. Human milk provides all the protein, sugar and fat your baby needs to be healthy. Breastfeeding babies are less likely to be hospitalized for respiratory infections, such as croup, bronchiolitis or pneumonia, and less likely to suffer from ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections or certain types of spinal meningitis.
Immunity. Human milk also strengthens your baby’s immune system by passing on antibodies, immune factors, enzymes and white blood cells, which protect your baby against diseases and infections during breastfeeding and long after the baby is weaned.
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Cost. A nursing mom needs to consume an extra 400 to 500 calories per day to supply enough milk for her baby. It costs up to $10 per day in formula to keep the baby fed. Multiply that by six months, and breastfeeding provides substantial savings.
Simplicity. It’s much more convenient to nurse a baby — just put the baby to your breast — than it is to dig out the formula, find the bottle, mix the formula, rinse and wash out the bottle, and get it ready for the next feeding. There’s also no need for breastfeeding moms to lug around food when out running errands.
The environment. All those formula cans and baby bottles and baby bottle liners need to go somewhere after they’ve been used. That somewhere is usually in a landfill. Your breastfeeding containers are reusable, and in most cases, will last you a lifetime.