You’ve heard that breast milk is complete nutrition that’s tailored to a baby’s needs. You’ve read that breastfeeding helps moms lose weight and prevents them from getting pregnant again in the months after giving birth. You know that breastfeeding can save parents boatloads of money (upwards of $2000 in the first year for some moms). You may even be aware that breast milk helps protect babies’ lungs, throat, and intestines. But there are other, less-often talked about benefits of breastfeeding.
- Breathe easy – A mother’s body temperature can increase or decrease by 2 degrees in response to her baby’s temperature when holding her baby to her chest. Breastfeeding also helps regulate baby’s respiration.
- Zen infusions – When a mother nurses, her body releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps her feel calm, happy, and relaxed. Many women look forward to these soothing moments in the midst of an otherwise overwhelming day.
- Relax, already! – Even if the dishes are piling up and the beds need to be made, breastfeeding moms need to prioritize. By taking a break when baby needs to nurse, moms can catch up on sleep and get someone else to do the laundry.
- Wanna be friends? – Not only are there plenty of local support groups for breastfeeding moms, like La Leche League and the Mother’s Milk Club at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center, seeing another mom nursing her baby is as reassuring as finding a friend on the first day of school.
- Baby smarts – Studies show that breastfed babies have higher IQs and get higher grades in school than their formula-fed counterparts. Nutrients in breast milk may help contribute to enhanced brain growth.
- Healing “ouchies” – The prevalent use of antibiotics has led to the creation of medicine-resistant super-bacteria. Throw out your tube of antibiotic ointment and put breast milk on cuts and scrapes instead. Breast milk has antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial elements that can heal skin and eye infections.
- A customized germ-fighting army – When mom is exposed to an illness, the antibodies created to fend off that specific virus are released in her breast milk. That means that baby gets immunity before he or she is even exposed to the actual germs.
- You have it all – Wherever mom is, whether it’s in Antarctica or on a camping trip, she has everything she needs to feed her baby. There’s no need to sterilize, measure, or store anything.
- More than milk – Many exhausted moms welcome the comfort that breastfeeding brings to their babies. Forget incessant rocking, bouncing, and patting. Nursing a baby is instantly comforting, and it’s easier than juggling a fussy kid in your arms.
- An unparalleled connection – Newborns can only focus on objects approximately 8-10 inches away. Not coincidentally, mom’s smiling face beams down at her child from this distance as she breastfeeds.