Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

Breastfeeding Benefits Mom, Baby, Finances, and the Planet

Katie Kennedy, RN, IBCLC
January 17, 2019 04:00PM

Breastfeeding can be hard! Even though it’s natural and primal, it doesn’t mean that it will be blissful and easy. With that being said, why breastfeed if sometimes the reality is struggle, frustration, exhaustion, and discomfort? Well, breastfeeding has many valuable benefits. It is beneficial for the infant, mom, finances, and planet.

Breastfeeding Benefits For Baby

Breast milk is nature’s perfect and complete source of nutrition for infants. It is ideal for your baby’s growth and brain development. The proteins in breast milk are more easily digested than proteins found in formula or cow’s milk. It contains antibodies to help infants fend off infections and diseases. Breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and episodes of diarrhea. They are also at lower risk for allergies and asthma. Additionally, the AAP reports that breastfeeding plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Long term, breastfeeding has been linked to lower risks of obesity, diabetes and certain cancers. Essentially, breast milk is the original super food for babies! It is both food and medicine for your little one.

Breastfeeding Benefits For Mom

There are breastfeeding advantages for mom too. Mothers who breastfeed recover more quickly from delivery. The postpartum hormone, oxytocin, is released during breastfeeding and helps the uterus contract and return to regular size to prevent excessive bleeding. Furthermore, studies show women who breastfeed have reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancers later in life. Lastly, the energy it takes to produce milk burns calories and helps you lose weight gained during pregnancy. You can expect to burn between 300-500 calories per day as you sit on your couch and nurse (take that treadmill!).

Breastfeeding Is Convenient

As a new mom, I often left the house forgetting extra diapers, wipes and other essential baby gear. The good news is that you won’t ever accidentally leave home without your breasts. As a breastfeeding mama, you will always have milk ready to go and at the perfect temperature. It won’t spoil or spill, and it won’t take up precious real estate in your already overstuffed diaper bag. There’s a lot to juggle as a new mom so it’s nice to have one less thing to remember and worry about.

Breastfeeding Promotes Bonding

Breastfeeding nourishes your baby’s physical needs and promotes maternal and infant bonding. You’re hip so you’ve probably heard about the importance of skin-to-skin. In addition to skin-to-skin regulating your baby’s heartbeat, breathing and temperature, it also provides infant comfort, calming and security. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone also referred to as the ‘love hormone’ because it enhances relaxation and reduces anxiety. As you hold your baby close, you learn each other through sight, smell, sound and touch. This early emotional bond between mom and baby sets the foundation for attachment, trust and love.

Financial Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is free! Okay, maybe it’s not completely free if you add up costs of nursing supplies such as breast pads, hands-free bra, breastfeeding-friendly clothing, pump and pump supplies. The estimated cost of formula, based on mid-ranged priced formula, is $2,044.00 per year. For my fellow number crunchers, I estimated that babies are drinking 30 ounces per day and each container costs $28. A single container makes 148 ounces and will need to be replaced every 5 days. A baby will go through 73 containers per year. This adds up to a whopping $2K. In addition, since breastfed babies are less likely to become ill with diarrhea, ear infections and respiratory infections, you will spend less on doctor visits and hospitalizations and also miss less work due to a sick baby. Bottom line, breastfeeding is good for the budget.

Breastfeeding Benefits the Planet

Breastfeeding is more ecologically-friendly than formula feeding. It does not require energy to manufacture and does not create waste in our landfills or contribute to air pollution. In emergency situations or disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, fires or floods, breastfeeding can save lives. Breastfeeding does not require access to clean water nor the ability to wash feeding supplies so it is the cleanest and safest food for an infant.

PANW Lactation Support

Breastfeeding is beneficial whether it occurs for days, weeks, months, or years. It is worth giving it a try and deciding for yourself if you want to continue or stop nursing at any point. It's also important to remember that breastfeeding can be challenging and it's normal to ask for help and seek guidance. Feeding is a new skill for ALL babies and learning how to breastfeed takes practice, patience and perseverance. Both first time moms and experienced moms can find themselves struggling. Here at PANW, we are committed to helping you reach your breastfeeding goals. Our lactation consultants are available at both offices. We are here to help support your breastfeeding goals in a judgement-free environment. Please call with your lactation and pumping questions or concerns.