We all know the saying “breast is best” but here are some of the colossal benefits, and a couple quirky facts, about breastfeeding.
1. Human milk boosts a baby’s immune system big time—helping baby fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, including:
- Respiratory tract infections
- Ear infections
- Bacterial meningitis
- Urinary tract infections
- Infant diarrhea
- Common colds and flus
2. Breastfeeding can actually reduce baby’s risk of disease later in life, including:
- Type I and II diabetes
- Hodgkin’s disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
3. Breastfeeding reduces mama’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. The longer she breastfeeds, the higher the benefit. In fact, a woman who breastfeeds for 8 years has nearly a 0% risk of breast cancer.
Get this—breastfeeding a baby girl actually reduces her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 25%.
4. Breastfeeding saves a family approximately $2 to 4 thousand dollars annually (compared to cost of formula).
5. Breastfeeding helps mama heal faster in the postpartum, helping her uterus return to pre-pregnancy size faster and lowering overall postpartum blood loss.
6. Breastfeeding can help mama return to her pre-baby weight. It takes 1000 calories a day on average to produce breast milk. Women are advised to consume an extra 500 calories a day, and the body dips into reserves it built up in pregnancy to make the rest (it’s important to consume those extra calories or the body actually goes into “starvation mode” and holds onto the reserves).
7. Producing breast milk consumes 25% of the body’s energy; the brain only uses 20% by comparison.
8. On average, babies remove 67% of the milk mama has available—they eat until fullness, not until the breast is emptied.
9. Almost 75% of all moms produce more milk in their right breast, whether they are right- or left- handed.
10. Mama’s body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby. Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old). Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.
11. Human milk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies (who doesn’t love that?) Breastfeeding also calms mama and helps her bond to baby.
12. Breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
13. Mama’s breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed. This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial.
14. Breastfeeding reduces baby’s risk of cavities later on and may lower the chance they will need braces as kids.
15. Breastfeeding mamas sleep on average 45 minutes more a night, compared to those who formula feed.