The Key Benefits
The health effects of breastfeeding have been well recognized and it provides key benefits to both baby and mom. Human milk is specifically designed to provide complete nutrition to the baby as well as provide additional immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that help the baby develop and grow properly. The baby gets all these great benefits from mom’s immune system and diet. Breast milk works as a vessel for mom to pass all these great things to her baby. This is what differentiates breast milk from formula.
While formula also provides complete nutrition to help the baby grow, it does not have the additional immune boosting properties that come from mom. Unfortunately, not all moms can breastfeed, which is okay because the most important thing is for the child to get fed and get all the nutrition they need. Breastfeeding just has some additional perks that come with it. We recommend breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life exclusively and then as additional nutrition up to one year of life if possible.
Breastfeeding Benefits to Mom and Child
Other than the benefits we have mentioned above, there are additional benefits for both mom and baby; for baby: less colds/ upper respiratory infections, less diarrheal illness, less ear infections, meningitis, and it decreases risk of SIDS and infant mortality. It is also linked to less asthma/ allergies in children as well as lower rates of obesity. From a GI perspective, it can lower your risk of celiac disease as well as inflammatory bowel disease. Some additional benefits for mom would be that it promotes faster weight loss after birth, burning about 500 extra calories a day to build and maintain a milk supply, stimulates the uterus to contract and return to normal size, less postpartum bleeding, less UTIs, lowers risk for postpartum depression and increases mom’s mood.
Your Pediatric Team at PB Digestive
Sari M. Kay, MD is a board-certified Pediatric Gastroenterologist. She has a specialties and expertise in treating patients with inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, constipation, infant reflux, and functional GI disorders.
Laura E. Irastorza, MD is a board-certified Pediatric Gastroenterologist. She has expertise in treating patients with eosinophilic esophagitis, constipation, reflux, and functional GI disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.