Why do you need to keep breastfeeding?
It’s a selfless decision that you made for the benefit of your baby’s health and well-being. Some of the most important benefits of breastfeeding your baby include:
- Gives your baby important antibodies to fight off certain disease/illnesses.
- Lowers the risk of developing asthma.
- Lowers the risk of ear infections.
- Lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Breastfeeding not only has incredible benefits for your baby but research has shown it also has benefits for you as well. Here are just a couple important benefits of breastfeeding for mothers:
- Decreases healing and recovery time after giving birth.
- Weight loss.
- Lowers the chances of ovarian cancer.
- Lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Lowers the chances of breast cancer.
- Decreases the chances of developing postpartum depression.
So, more than likely you are already aware of most of the benefits of breastfeeding your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding at least until 12 months, whereas the World Health Organization recommends at least until 2 years of age but preferably as long as you and baby desire.
What inspires you to keep breastfeeding? It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. The sleepless nights, having to worry about leakage, always thinking about where you are going to pump when you are out of the house for a longer duration of time. What about work? Are you a working mother? Being a breastfeeding working mother adds even more challenges. It would be so much easier for you to just give up and start using formula. So, why don’t you? What keeps you inspired to continue breastfeeding?
Unique Bonding Experience
Breastfeeding provides a unique bonding experience. It’s incredible for mothers and babies. It’s special moments that only a mother and her baby get to have. This unique bonding experience keeps mothers breastfeeding even when they must return to work. She may pump to keep her milk supply up and have baby bottle fed during the times she’s unavailable to breastfeed but when she isn’t at work and is available---having baby at her breast will be a top priority.
Postpartum Healing and Recovery
In some research studies it was shown that exclusive breastfeeding sped up the healing and recovery time after vaginal delivery or caesarean section.
Breastfeeding has also been shown to decrease chances of mothers developing the ‘baby blues’ or postpartum depression. Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a wonderful antidepressant and it is released in a woman’s body when she is breastfeeding. Thus, breastfeeding reduces the risk of a mother getting the ‘baby blues’.
Studies have been inconclusive but for many women breastfeeding has helped them get back to their pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories so during those initial 6-8 weeks when a new mother isn’t supposed to be doing any significant amount of physical activity or exercise it can definitely help in losing weight more rapidly than a new mother that isn’t breastfeeding.
Losing any amount of extra weight and putting on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans can make a new mother feel incredible. Self-esteem and confidence will be higher and this will in turn create a more positive mindset—decreasing anxiety and the chances of developing the baby blues.
Lowers the Risk of Disease & Illness
Risks of developing certain types of breast and ovarian cancer have been shown to be decreased in women that breastfeed. According to scientists a mother that breastfeeds her baby is shown to cut her chances of developing ovarian cancer by two-thirds.
Why does breastfeeding decrease a woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer? It is thought that because breastfeeding reduces ovulation, this lessens the risks of cancerous cell from being created.
Decreases the Risk of SIDS
SIDS, i.e. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the sudden unexplained death of an infant. There are approximately 2,000 deaths attributed to SIDS annually in the U.S. Though reasons are unclear, breastfeeding has been shown in recent studies to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Doctors believe that it’s possibly a combination of a component in the breastmilk and waking the baby to feed more frequently that plays in the reduction of SIDS. There are recognized probiotics and immunologic benefits to baby so perhaps there is a component in the breastmilk that provides the baby protection from SIDS? Either way, breastfeeding has been shown in reputable studies to decrease the risk of SIDS.
Decreases the Risk of Ear Infections & Asthma
Nearly all children get at least one ear infection during childhood, however, more and more studies have shown that babies that are breastfed get fewer and less severe ear infections than babies that were formula-fed. According to Dr. Sears, world-recognized pediatrician, babies who are breastfed get fewer ear infections.
Asthma is also something that breastfed babies have been shown to develop less of than formula-fed babies. Again, it’s thought that a component in the breastmilk protects the respiratory system against it.
There are hundreds of reasons for women to keep breastfeeding past the recommended 6-12 months (American Academy of Pediatrics) or even 2 year mark (World Health Organization).
If you are looking for inspiration to continue breastfeeding—perhaps you’re feeling defeated or exhausted, you are returning to work, or you don’t feel you are providing enough breastmilk to really make much of a difference in your baby’s health and well-being---you really don’t have to look very far! There are many reputable studies that show how incredible breastmilk really is—there are so many things that are still unknown about it---but what is known is that it is the greatest food and nourishment you can provide for your baby. Only you are able to provide it!
The exhaustion will soon be in the past. This phase of your life and your baby’s life will go by in the blink of an eye--even though it doesn’t feel like it. You’ll look back in awe and wonderment at the challenges you were able to overcome. Millions of women return to work and are still nursing. You won’t be alone in the challenges of pumping your milk at work. Find or make your own support network! Social media is a wonderful thing—if you can’t find local mothers, find long-distance mothers that are in your same situation. Support each other! You can do this!