The Power of Breastfeeding
Research summarized by Tanya, IBCLC
Congratulations on your new baby! This exciting time for you and your family may also come with a lot of questions, including how to feed a newborn. Don’t worry, you are not alone!
Below is a brief summary of some of the latest research about the benefits of breastfeeding. Some women are unable to, or choose not to breastfeed, and that is fine. But if you are interested in nursing, here is some information you may find helpful.
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Benefits for the baby:
Reduced risk of SIDS: “Researchers found that any breastfeeding for two to four months reduced risk by 40%; any breastfeeding for four to six months reduced risk by 60%; and longer than six months reduced risk by 64%.”
More diverse microbiomes & beneficial bacteria in infants' gut: “Research shows that breastfed babies start out with more diverse microbiomes, which protect them from obesity, allergies and other chronic diseases later in life.” The study also finds that 30% of the beneficial bacteria in a baby's intestinal tract come directly from mother's milk, and an additional 10% comes from skin on the mother's breast.
Lower risk of eczema: “Experts… [find] that children whose mothers attended a hospital where a breastfeeding support program was implemented had a 54% reduction in the risk of eczema as teenagers.”
Last but not least: children might more likely eat vegetables! “New research from the Monell Chemical Senses Centre claims that babies who are exposed to vegetables while being breastfed are more likely to want to eat vegetables when they’re able to process solid foods.”
Benefits for the mom:
More maternal sensitivity to children's needs: “A study finds mothers who breastfed for longer periods of time are more responsive to their kids' needs a full decade into their young lives.”
Lower chronic pain for mothers after c-section: “A team of researchers found that women who breastfeed their babies for at least two months post-surgery were three times less likely to experience continual pain compared to women who breastfed for less than two months.”
Lower risk of developing breast cancer among mothers: “Researchers from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund analyzed 18 studies that examined breastfeeding. Results reveal that for every five months a woman breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer is reduced by two percent.”
Breastfeeding may not come easy for all women so do not hesitate to seek out advice and support from lactation consultants, your healthcare provider, and/or breastfeeding support groups. In addition to being extremely beneficial to you and your baby, breastfeeding is also a unique opportunity to bond with your little one.