EXPERT Q&A

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Deciding whether or not to breastfeed your baby is a choice you—as a new parent—have to make. While research shows the many benefits of breastfeeding, it’s important to remember that your baby being fed—whether by breast or bottle—is best.

SAVE
Featured image

Question

I’m pregnant with my first child and all of my friends with kids are telling me to breastfeed. But I am not certain that this is what I want to do. I know it has some benefits, but I’m not sure if it’s right for me and my baby. Can you talk through the benefits of breastfeeding?

Answer

First, thank you for your question. This is one many expectant mothers must face, and let me first tell you that whether or not you choose to breastfeed, it is your choice and the right answer is whatever you choose. While your friends are suggesting that you breastfeed, this does not mean you should feel pressure to do so. Do what works and feels best for you and your new baby.

This being said, it is true that research shows many benefits of breastfeeding. From what we know, babies who have been breastfed receive a number of nutrients from their mother’s milk, which contains natural components that can help soothe a baby. We also know that breast milk changes and adapts to a baby’s needs, even during a single feeding. Specifically, breastmilk provides antibodies needed to fight off germs or sickness the baby may encounter. Given this, research has found that babies who have been breastfed have stronger immune systems, and fewer reported stomach problems, ear infections, and colds. Research has also found that breastfed babies have lower rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infant mortality

These greater health outcomes lead to larger impacts. Data has found that parents of infants who have been breastfed are six times less likely to miss work because their babies are sick less often. And the benefits of breastfeeding continue as a child develops into their toddler and school-aged years. Studies show that breastfed children are less likely to develop allergies, asthma, eczema, or obesity. They are also less likely to have speech, dental problems, or cavities. Even into adulthood, research shows that those who have been breastfed are less likely to have arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and heart disease.

Breastfeeding moms also benefit. They have less chance of postpartum bleeding, postpartum depression, urinary tract infections, and anemia. They are also at a lower risk of diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and a host of other illnesses. It can also help new moms emotionally and mentally, and support the bond between mother and baby.

It is clear that breastfeeding comes with several benefits, but this is not to say that not breastfeeding isn’t a good option. Don’t feel pressured to breastfeed if it doesn’t work for you. Some moms are physically unable to breastfeed or have suffered trauma in the past, completely eliminating breastfeeding as an option. Others choose not to breastfeed because of their demanding schedule or lifestyle. Some mothers exclusively pump their breast milk and give it to the baby by bottle—and this is okay too.

Whatever you choose, simply make sure it’s the right choice for you. And in no way does it need to align with what your friends want you to do or think is best. The choice is yours!

Meet The Expert


Mirella Alexis

Mirella has been a family and childcare advocate for nearly two decades. With her bachelor’s degree in early childcare education, Mirella immediately started expanding her portfolio as a professional nanny, early childhood educator, and newborn care specialist. She later obtained her certification in child nutrition, positive discipline, and child abuse prevention. She expanded her professional reach more in 2016 by taking on the role of labor and postpartum doula. In 2020, Mirella became the Vice President of The Nanny Sitter Fund. She’s excited to be bringing her passion for childcare to the masses, making child welfare everyone’s responsibility. Learn more about her at MirellaAlexis.com