The growth and development of your newborn starts far before he or she enters the world — and changes start happening to mom too.

An early sign of pregnancy is tenderness in the breasts, which is a sign that your body is preparing to produce breast milk.

Once you give birth, milk production swings into high gear and may result in discomfort, but breastfeeding your little one from the get-go will ease this discomfort and also start a flood of benefits for you and baby.

What are the advantages of breastfeeding your baby?

Every drop of breast milk offers cells, hormones and antibodies to help protect your little one from illness. In fact, colostrum, the milk produced during pregnancy and after birth, is known as “liquid gold” thanks to its rich nutrients and antibodies. In addition to protecting your baby from infection, it also helps with the growth and functioning of your newborn’s digestive system. Your baby’s small tummy can only hold so much colostrum, but each feeding is immensely helpful.

Your milk will change three to five days after birth, and has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein to help foster continued growth. While it appears thinner than colostrum, it still fulfills all the nutrients and antibodies needed for healthy development.

Some research also shows that breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing certain conditions and diseases, such as:

• Asthma

• Allergies

• Childhood leukemia

• Childhood obesity

• Ear infections

• Diarrhea, vomiting and colic

• Lower respiratory infections

• Sudden infant death syndrome

• Type 2 diabetes

• Necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in premature babies

All these health benefits are accompanied by a great bonding experience and plenty of advantages for mom as well.

What are the advantages for a breastfeeding mom?

If breastfeeding is a viable option for mom, she also reaps many physical and emotional benefits. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of good hormones prolactin and oxytocin, which creates a feeling of fulfillment and joy during and after breastfeeding. The health advantages for mom last during and long after breastfeeding is finished.

• Moms recover more quickly and easily, as oxytocin acts to return the uterus to its regular size faster and can reduce postpartum bleeding.

• Some moms show a quicker return to pre-baby weight.

• Research shows a lower rate of ovarian and breast cancer later in life.

• Studies show a reduced risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Breastfeeding is also very practical and has bonuses that affect the entire family.

• Breastmilk is free, unlike expensive formula.

• Feeding your newborn in the middle of the night doesn’t require making a bottle or preparing supplies.

• Traveling out and about doesn’t require a bag of feeding equipment (aside from a pump if needed).

• Environmental impacts include no bottles to wash and no formula to throw away.

Of all these advantages, the feeling of maternal fulfillment is toward the top of the list. Breastfeeding is a powerful and special bonding experience for mom and baby, and it’s the one parenting experience that only mom can do, which fosters a new level of connectedness.


Dr. Vicki Herrman wrote this guest blog for To read more about Dr. Herrman, click here

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