Five Surprising Health Benefits of Breastfeeding For Moms & Babies

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated by 120 countries around the world.  While we recognize that breastfeeding is a personal choice, and it’s affected by a lot of variables, we wanted to explain exactly why organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding for at least the first six months of a baby’s life.   Here are five reasons why breastfeeding benefits infants -- and their moms, too!

Breastfeeding decreases pediatric infections.

Babies who are breastfed have the advantage of getting antibodies from their mom through the breastmilk, which means these babies have significantly lower rates of ear infections and upper respiratory infections.  This translates to happy, healthier babies and fewer trips to the doctor’s office in the first year of life.

Breastfeeding saves money.

Moms who breastfeed spend less on formula, bottles, nipples, bottle sterilizers and other supplies.  Parents of breastfed babies also spend less on medical care for their babies in the first year of life.  To put it in perspective, only 25% of infants are still being breastfed at 6 months old.  Because of this low breastfeeding rate, the CDC estimates that the U.S. spends an additional $3 billion each year in health costs.

Breastfeeding moms burn more calories.

It’s healthy for moms to gain weight during pregnancy, but the CDC estimates that more than 50% of women in the U.S. gain too much weight, which leads not only to pregnancy complications, but also to long-term health issues like obesity and Type II diabetes for new moms.  Breastfeeding burns between 300-500 calories a day, which translates to faster weight loss and fewer postpartum health issues.

Breastfeeding decreases the risk of chronic pediatric conditions.

Not only does breastfeeding have a short-term health benefit for infants by decreasing the risk of common pediatric infections; it also has long-term health benefits.  Babies who are breastfed have lower rates of allergies and asthma.  New research shows

that breastfeeding may decrease pediatric diabetes as well.

Breastfeeding helps moms and babies bond.

During breastfeeding, there’s skin-to-skin contact as well as close eye contact with mom and baby, which helps to support the parent-child bond. Also, breastfeeding moms produce the hormone oxytocin while their baby is breastfeeding, which decreases anxiety and blood pressure, and promotes feelings of closeness and trust.

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Did you know Golden Gate Urgent Care provides same-day illness and injury care for children of all ages?  If you or your little one needs medical attention, make an appointment online or simply walk in to any of our six Bay Area locations to get the care you need!

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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