Even before your baby makes her grand entrance, you may have noticed changes in your breasts.
This is your body preparing to breastfeed. Understanding what these changes mean and how the act of breastfeeding benefits you and your baby’s health is the key for many women. Here are some benefits, which may have a special meaning to you when thinking about breastfeeding.
Breastmilk has everything your little one needs to grow—and offers benefits for you, too.
Benefits for baby
Breastmilk is nature’s perfect food for your baby. Here’s why:
- Breastmilk evolves as your baby’s nutritional needs change. For the first 3 to 4 days, your breasts produce a thick, yellow milk called colostrum, or first milk. It’s concentrated with antibodies and proteins to protect your baby’s newborn intestines and provide a type of natural immunisation.
- Breastmilk naturally has the perfect proportions of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to meet your baby’s energy needs.
- The fat in breastmilk is rich in omega fatty acids, such as DHA, which helps support healthy brain and eye development.
It’s easily digested and absorbed
- The abundance of nutrients in breastmilk foster the healthiest environment for your baby’s digestive system.
- Unlike proteins found in regular cow’s milk and most formulas, the proteins in breastmilk are naturally gentle and easy to digest.
It offers protection:
- Breastmilk contains antibodies and other components that help reduce the risk of infection such as ear infections and pneumonia.
- Healthy bacteria (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli)—called probiotics—in breastmilk supports your baby’s digestive system.
Benefits for mum
Breastfeeding is good for mum’s health, too. Here’s why:
Lessens future health risks
- Breastfeeding has been associated with decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer later on in life.
Breastfeeding hormones like oxytocin cut down your recovery time
- The act of breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin, which helps the uterus to contract and return to its pre-pregnancy size in less time.
Promotes reduced stress and has a calming effect
- Hormones stimulated by the physical contact with your baby and production of breastmilk help you relax and feel calmer.
Helps you bond and read your baby’s cues
- Escape the hustle and bustle together.
- Relax with your baby and observe how she communicates.
- Skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact provides a unique closeness.
Inexpensive, convenient and naturally made
- Requires little to no equipment.
- Can be done almost anywhere and anytime.