6 Surprising Benefits of Breastfeeding

Image adapted via Flickr/ Raphael Goetter

Well, I am awaiting the birth of baby #4 any day now, and I have to admit that I have been struggling with the thought of breastfeeding again. It's such a sacrifice for some mothers to make, and I confess that over the years of endless feedings, mastitis, and life revolving around two-hour snatches of time, I have lost sight of the tremendous benefits that breastfeeding can bring.

To help refresh my memory, I did a little research on some of the more surprising benefits of breastfeeding …

Image via Flickr/ stickwithjosh

Breastfeeding reduces the risks of SIDS

A study in Pediatrics revealed that breastfeeding exclusively in the first month of life can reduce the risk of SIDS by a shocking half. After studying the association between breastfeeding and SIDS, researchers concluded that both exclusive and partial breastfeeding were linked to drastically decreased rates of SIDS.

Image via Flickr/ adifansnet

Breastfeeding can help you get back in your pre-pregnancy jeans faster

I'm not someone who loses weight while breastfeeding, but breastfeeding alone can help your uterus snap back into its pre-pregnancy size, helping you slide back into your jeans a little bit faster. Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract back in about six weeks instead of approximately 10 weeks if you don't breastfeed.

{ MORE: 3 Things That Have Made My Life as a Triple Feeding Mom SO Much Easier }

Image via Flickr/ hugabub.com

It customizes to your baby's needs

Don't ask me how, but breast milk is a pretty amazing concoction, because somehow, it adjusts automatically to fulfill your baby's nutrition needs. The breast milk of a mother with a preemie baby, for instance, is going to be a lot different than a full-term baby. Even mothers to boys and mothers to girls have differences in their milk. As your baby grows, your milk's composition will change right along with him – or her – to ensure that he or she is getting exactly what is needed.

Image via Flickr/ ECohen

Breastfeeding gives your baby super immunity powers

We're all so worried about germs and new babies, but a breastfed baby actually has some super hidden immunity powers–all from you. Immunoglobins from you (those are large proteins that fight off the bad stuff) actually layer all the major sites of invasion in your baby's body from the get-go, including his mucus membranes, intestines, nose, and throat. That's some awesome protection, but don't let visitors skip out on the hand sanitizer just yet …

{ MORE: 5 Fall-Themed Ways to Announce that You're Pregnant }


Image via Flickr/ Sellers Patton

Breastfeeding completely changes your baby's intestinal bacteria

In the human body, our intestines are lined with tons of bacteria, called “normal flora,” that lay the groundwork for important body functions such as digestion and even regulating our immune systems. What's interesting to note is that in breastfed babies, the normal flora of the intestine is completely different than a bottle-fed babies. One study found that breastfed babies' flora consisted mainly of lactobacilli and streptococci, while the formula-fed infants showed more staphylococci, Escherichia coli, and clostridia. While we're still unsure of what exactly this means, there are many theories that point to the differences in flora leading to the development of allergies, like gluten intolerance.

Image via Flickr/ David Leo Veksler

Breastfeeding may lower a mother's risk of breast cancer

While this area is still being studied more intensively, the American Cancer Society states that breastfeeding is associated with a slight decrease in breast cancer among women. The risk is especially lowered with longer durations of breastfeeding and seems to affect the most aggressive types of breast cancer.

{ MORE: Flu Season: When Should You and Your Baby Get the Flu Shot? }

Did you breastfeed? Why or why not? (No judgment, please!)

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6 Surprising Benefits of Breastfeeding

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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1 comment

  1. Tiffiany says:

    I am so glad I read this article! I was in give-up mode since my supply has been steadily dropping. I now can try foods that may help. I never paid any attention to my supply based on what meal I ate but I hope this helps bc I prefer to breastfeed over bottle feed most of the time.


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