What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

A mother and newborn baby boy are indoors together. The mother is breastfeeding her baby.Breastfeeding has many benefits for mom and baby.

Benefits for Mom:

• Breastfeeding decreases the chance of certain cancers like ovarian and breast
Breastfeeding increases oxytocin:
– When mothers breastfeed, oxytocin levels increase and  breast milk “lets down.”
– Oxytocin helps with involution time, or the time it takes  the uterus to contract back down to pre-pregnancy size. The shorter amount of time it takes, the less bleeding there will be.
– Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for love and bonding!
• Breastfeeding helps mom lose weight faster.
• Breastfeeding decreases chance of diabetes.
• It is convenient (no mixing or warming required, no cleaning/sterilizing bottles).
• If using WIC, mom will get more food.

Benefits for Baby:

• Breastmilk is easier to digest than formula.
Breastfed babies are at a decrease risk for certain illness:
– Ear infections
– Allergies and asthma
– Diarrhea
– Childhood leukemia
– Diabetes
– Childhood obesity
• Decrease chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
• Passive immunity from mom (mother’s antibodies are passed to baby, so they are protected from illness until their immune system is strong enough to make their own antibodies).

Even if mom does not want to put the baby directly to breast, she can still give her infant breast milk by pumping and offering a bottle. Any amount of breast milk for any duration of time is going to be beneficial to baby.

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About Teri Spurling, RN, IBCLC

Teri Spurling, RN, IBCLC, has worked at UofL Hospital for 42 years, even since graduating from UofL’s School of Nursing in 1977. Within the Center for Women & Infants at UofL Hospital, she served in the newborn nursery for 28 years, and was on the Mother/Baby unit for two years before becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2012. She also serves on the Baby-Friendly committee for the hospital.

All posts by Teri Spurling, RN, IBCLC