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How Breastfeeding Benefits You and Your Baby

Breastfeeding a baby provides all the nutrients they need to grow and develop a strong immune system. While breastmilk gives babies a healthy start in life, the mother receives important health benefits from nursing as well. Here are some of the advantages of breastfeeding for both moms and their babies.

Benefits for the Baby

Breastmilk provides numerous protective benefits for the baby. It is full of important ingredients including white blood cells, antibodies, and helpful bacteria which work to keep baby healthy. Exclusively breastfed babies are less likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome or become ill with colds, flu, and ear infections. If breastfed babies get sick, the mother produces antibodies targeting the infection which helps the baby recover quicker than formula-fed babies.

Benefits for the Mother

Breastfeeding helps protect moms from developing certain diseases. It lowers the risk of ovarian and breast cancers and is associated with a smaller risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Nursing mothers have an easier time recovering from childbirth because the hormone oxytocin, which is released during breastfeeding, helps the uterus return to its normal size more quickly.

Bonding Benefits

In addition to the enormous nutritional benefits for babies, breastfeeding helps develop a strong emotional bond due to the oxytocin released by the mother and baby. Research shows that the longer the mother breastfeeds, the more she is involved and invested in her child’s interactions for years to come. Babies share bonding benefits as well; breastfeeding promotes an attachment that continues to positively affect their development during childhood.

Breastfeeding Recommendations

National and international organizations encourage mothers to breastfeed their infants because of its importance to their health. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises moms to exclusively breastfeed infants for their first six months and keep nursing with the addition of foods until the child is a year old. The World Health Organization has similar recommendations but urges mothers to continue nursing until the child is at least two years old.

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