The Benefits of Breastfeeding All Parents Should Consider

Having a baby involves making decisions about things that never mattered before. Who knew there were so many types of diaper disposal systems? Even choosing between breastfeeding and going with formula takes some careful consideration, and deciding well in advance is a must since there’s always a chance the baby will show up a little earlier than expected. For this reason, you may want to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Ultimately, the choice is up to each mother. But if you need a little more information, take a closer look at why you might want to go sans bottle. You could save serious money and maybe even get back to your pre-pregnancy weight faster.

1. Bolsters the baby’s immune system

happy couple cradling their sleeping newborn

Breastfeeding may help your baby’s immune system. |

Before we get to this benefit, it’s worth mentioning all the information you’ll see about how you can drastically improve your child’s health by breastfeeding. While there’s certainly research that’s linked the method with reduced rates of obesity and higher IQ scores, there’s no way to actually attribute these benefits to breastfeeding. You can keep your little one robust by forgoing bottle feeding, though.

For years, researchers have identified a link between breastfeeding and reduced risk of infant diarrhea. Like the associations we already mentioned, though, they didn’t have any explanation for why. One team thinks they found the answer by testing a hypothesis with mice, and they published the results in The Journal of Immunology. According to the researchers, breastfeeding mothers transfer a receptor called CCR10 to their children through their milk, and this helps ward off intestinal infections by encouraging antibody production.

2. Boosts postpartum weight loss

female feet on a weighing scale

You’ll get back to your pre-baby weight. |

Ask any mother about losing the baby weight, and she’ll tell you it isn’t easy. It takes time and patience, as with any diet, but one major benefit of breastfeeding is its ability to help you get back into your favorite pair of jeans faster. One study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal involving more than 300 women found ladies who exclusively relied on breastfeeding during the first three months lost more weight than those who didn’t use the method.

This is less strange than it might first sound. You’re essentially adding another function to everything else your body already does. According to Today, this can help your body burn up to 500 more calories every day.

3. Helps the reproductive system heal

Happy family blowing bubbles

Breastfeeding can help the rest of your body, too. |

Your body goes through a lot of changes over the course of a pregnancy, so it makes sense the same is true after giving birth. Because the uterus expands to accommodate the baby, it’s sort of stretched out after delivery. Breastfeeding can really help in this department. When you breastfeed, your body produces more of the hormone oxytocin. Dr. Laura Jana, a pediatrician, tells Parents this hormone helps your uterus shrink back to its normal size and reduces the risk of bleeding. According to the story, the sensation is similar to menstrual cramps. While it can be painful, it usually doesn’t persist for too long.

4. It’s inexpensive

Woman dropping coins in a jar

You’ll definitely save money. |

While every baby’s calorie needs are a little bit different, going with formula is always going to end up being rather costly. BabyCenter says you can expect to spend between $60 and $100 per month on formula. Sticking with something your body produces is clearly a lot more wallet-friendly. If you do end up deciding to go with formula, whether it’s to supplement breastfeeding or as a replacement, the story said powdered versions are the least expensive.

But keep in mind, breastfeeding mothers need to make sure they’re eating the right foods. It might cost a bit more to eat fish and vegetables than a bowl of macaroni and cheese, but you’re going to be better off for it. According to Mayo Clinic, maintaining a healthy diet and staying sufficiently hydrated are key to helping your body produce enough milk.

5. Reduces the risk of postpartum depression

Man comforting his sad mourning friend

You’ll be less likely to develop postpartum depression. |

Postpartum depression is still somewhat of a taboo subject, but it really shouldn’t be. According to research published in JAMA Psychiatry, which included 10,000 women, 14% experienced postpartum depression. While there’s no way to eliminate your risk, breastfeeding can help minimize it. One 2015 study found women who planned to breastfeed and actually followed through were the least likely to experience depression after giving birth.

6. Promotes heart health

hands showing red heart

It’s good for your heart. |

While this definitely falls under the category of benefits we don’t understand, it’s hard to ignore the large body of research supporting the link between breastfeeding and heart health. One study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology involving nearly 140,000 women found those who breastfed their children were significantly less likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in life. Furthermore, those who reported the longest duration of time devoted to breastfeeding had the lowest risk.

7. It’s convenient

Mother holding baby

You can feed your baby any time you need. |

Convenience might be the most compelling reason of all to breastfeed, or at least try it. You’ll avoid a lot of hassles with TSA at the airport, and you never have to worry about packing enough formula. You’ll also significantly reduce waste since you won’t have to toss out spent liners and bottle nipples.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec