As a new mom, breastfeeding is one of the best ways you can give your newborn a healthy start in life. But it also offers you many surprising benefits, from losing extra weight to saving time and money.
A Healthy Start
Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for a baby. “It has exactly the right amount of fatty acids, lactose, amino acids and water that an infant needs,” said Joni Lisenbee, BSN, RN, IBCLC, Nurse Manager, Mother/Baby Unit, Mission Hospital.
Most babies easily digest breast milk, leading to proper growth and weight gain. “Breastfed infants are able to control the amount of breast milk they consume, so they learn internal cues of feeling full,” explained Lisenbee. “Sometimes bottle-fed infants are encouraged to finish the bottle, so the child may eat more than needed.”
Breastfed infants are sick less often, meaning fewer doctor visits. Research shows that breastfeeding helps protect children from diarrhea, ear infections and bacterial meningitis.
“By sharing her immune system through her breast milk, a mother can also help protect her child against many chronic diseases later in life, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” said Lisenbee.
Benefits for Mom
For new moms, breastfeeding can help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the risk of depression, and protect against breast, uterine and ovarian cancer, said Lisenbee. Nursing mothers can more easily lose those stubborn extra pounds gained from pregnancy. “Breastfeeding moms burn an extra 300 to 500 calories daily,” explained Lisenbee. “In combination with exercise and a healthy diet, breastfeeding can help mothers lose pregnancy weight quickly.”
Another benefit of breastfeeding is time savings. “There is no preparation and clean-up involved with breastfeeding,” Lisenbee said. “Breast milk is always ready and at the right temperature with no prep needed.”
Formula feedings means buying bottles, nipples, formula, a bottle sterilizer and a drying rack, and this can add up to $1,500 or more annually, said Lisenbee. So choosing to breastfeed instead can save money.
Breastfeeding also helps a mother relax and bond with her child. “Breastfeeding requires taking time to sit down and spend time with your baby,” said Lisenbee. “In our busy lives, it’s an opportunity for a mother and child to study one another’s faces and form an emotional bond.”
Joni Lisenbee, BSN, RN, IBCLC, is the Nurse Manager at Mission Hospital’s Mother/Baby Unit.