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The Health Benefits of Breastfeeding

You’re probably already aware of the most basic benefits of breastfeeding. Colostrums in the breast milk of a new mother will boost the baby’s immune system in the first days and weeks of life by passing on antibodies that the mother has developed throughout her life. You’ve also probably heard about the benefits of losing weight more quickly when you breastfeed and, of course, there’s the cost savings you’ll experience by not buying bottles and formula.

But did you know that there are a ton of other health benefits for you and your baby that go well beyond basic nutrition in the first months of your baby’s life? Breastfeeding actually reduces the risk of many serious health conditions in both you and your baby. It can also set the tone for the health condition of your child for the rest of his or her life.

Health Benefits for You

Immediate benefits of breastfeeding are evident right away, and can make you feel better about the discomfort that can come with the motherly duty. Your uterus will return to normal size much more quickly, which reduces the amount of blood flow and the time it takes to heal from the birth, which, in turn, lowers the risk of anemia. You’ll also appreciate improved mental health, as breastfeeding mothers are at a lower risk for postpartum depression.

There are also many long-term health benefits of breastfeeding. Mothers who breastfeed their babies are much less likely to have ovarian or breast cancer. Studies are still ongoing on the effects of breastfeeding on osteoporosis, but initial findings are fairly positive. You’ll also have a lower risk of developing type II diabetes, and diabetic mothers will have less need for insulin after breastfeeding. Overall, your health will soar, you’ll have more energy and you’ll be healthier for years to come if you decide to breastfeed.

The other major health benefit of breastfeeding is that it slows fertility. This is a good thing for your health because multiple pregnancies close together can cause numerous health problems, including diabetes and severe calcium deficiencies leading to poor dental and bone health. It’s far better to space out your children for your health, and breastfeeding helps you do this.

Health Benefits for Baby

You already know that your baby gets a natural boost to his immune system from your breast milk in the initial stages of his life. But do you know the total short- and long-term health benefits breastfeeding has for your baby? The boost in immune system response makes your baby less likely to develop ear and respiratory infections, including RSV. And because the milk is so easily digested, other health conditions such as diarrhea, constipation and gastrointestinal disorders are much less common in breastfed babies.

There are also many long-term effects from breastfeeding as well. Children who are breastfed as babies have a long life of good health and high intelligence, according to many scientific studies. Breastfeeding encourages good dental health and eyesight throughout your child’s life, and the nutrition found in breast milk promotes good nutrition throughout life, making the risk for childhood obesity much less. Your child will also be less likely to develop juvenile diabetes, childhood cancers, allergies or asthma. With all these benefits to be had, why would anyone choose not to participate in this miraculous process?

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