Does Breastfeeding Make Babies Healthier?
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
Let's take a look at the evidence on breastfeeding and discover the connection between this feeding choice and the concept that it makes babies healthier.
As a mother, you feel the instinctive desire to do whatever is best for your child. It's no surprise that breastfeeding is important; it's our body's way of producing the exact nutrients needed to feed our babies. Breastfeeding helps build a strong emotional bond between mother and baby and makes babies physically healthier.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months (meaning no other food or drink besides breast milk), followed by continued breastfeeding as desired by both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding Has Significant Health Benefits for Babies
For mothers, the benefits of breastfeeding include an emotional attachment to their newborn, muscle contractions that help to reduce the size of the uterus, and reduced risks of breast cancer.
For babies, breast milk is the perfect food for your baby and can help protect against infections, allergies, and other health problems, including:
Respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis
Breastmilk contains many immune factors that protect against illness; exclusive breastfeeding for any length of time helps to protect babies and compounds with each meal.
The immune system in a breastfed baby is strong because it gets more antibodies from the mother's milk. A woman's body produces these antibodies to fight off germs that she may have picked up from her environment and help protect her babies from getting sick.
In addition to helping your baby develop a healthy immune system and preventing allergies, breastmilk is good for the digestive system. Research has shown that during the first month of life, babies receive more than twenty-five percent of their gut bacteria from breast milk and around ten percent from areolar skin around the nipple.
Breastfeeding is rich in prebiotics and probiotics—the healthy bacteria that live naturally inside our bodies and contribute to our health. Breastmilk contains many types of bacteria, including bifidobacteria, which help prevent diarrhea, and lactobacilli which aid digestion.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby. The suddenness and unexplained nature of SIDS make it particularly devastating for parents, who are left wondering what could have been done to save their child.
In the United States, SIDS is the leading cause of death from 1 month to 1 year old. The good news is that there are many ways to reduce your baby's risk, including breastfeeding him or her as often as possible during this vulnerable period.
Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease
Research suggests that breastfeeding for the first six months of life can reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. African Americans are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases due to a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risks such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
Disease management is less effective, resulting in a higher mortality rate. Additionally, black mothers' breastfeeding rates are lower when compared to other ethnic groups. We must start early and educate our community on how breastfeeding makes babies healthier.
Lactation Services Can Help
I hope you are feeling a little more confident in your ability to take on this journey. It can be overwhelming initially, but remember that every mom starts somewhere. Don't worry if things don't go exactly as planned.
If you're expecting and need support or having trouble breastfeeding for any reason, a number of resources can help you. Start by reaching out for lactation services, where you can attend educational sessions, develop a personalized technique, or receive general support for your breastfeeding needs.
At Mother's Magical Milk, we understand the importance of having a support system; that's why we curated concierge services to support families in their 4th Trimester.