Please note: The information on this page is general and in no way replaces consultation with a health professional. Whereas every effort is made to ensure accuracy and relevance this in no way replaces seeing a Health Professional.
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Baby is often the first point of focus, when one considers the benefits of breastfeeding and there are many but it is potentially advantageous to start with the far reaching benefits to the mother herself. There are several advantages for the mother, not least of which are some considerable potential health benefits.
Breastfeeding does not always come easily, it is something that can be intuitive but often benefits from the support and advice of experienced individuals and health professionals. Most women can breastfeed physically and Dr. Petrina Duncan and the other health professionals involved in your care will ensure you have the support and care that will help you achieve your optimum feeding experience. Of course breastfeeding isn't always desired or possible and Petrina and the other health professionals that work closely with her will ensure you are given full support and provision of information to enable you to have a fulfilling and rewarding feeding experience irrespective of the chosen method of baby feeding.
For the Mother.
Health Benefits. Various, peer reviewed studies have looked at the possible health benefits to women who have breast-fed. There is now good evidence that, on average, the following health problems are less common in women who have breast-fed one or more babies compared with those who have never breast-fed. These include
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Postnatal depression
Some useful links pertaining to the above are here: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12.
Breast-feeding can assist with contraception up until your baby is 6 months old, providing you haven't had a period and your baby is exclusively breast-fed. It is not sufficient and it is recommended that other measures be considered to compliment breast feeding as a contraceptive.
Some useful links pertaining to this here: 1,2,3
Weight Loss. The most cited health benefit for some mothers, is that it can be easier to lose weight after giving birth if you are breastfeeding. This depends on many other variables and the emphasis is on the word easier rather than guaranteeing weight loss. A healthy diet is also an essential aspect in regards to this.
Convenience. Breast-feeding can be the most convenient method of feeding your baby. There is no preparation time and it is always available. For some however it is worth noting that breastfeeding doesn't come easily and convenience is relative to the individuals own perceptions and circumstances.
Financial. After the initial consideration of Feeding bras etc. it is overall more financially economical to breastfeeding. There certainly is no ongoing costs of the milk itself. It is not often the straight equation however that is portrayed and other things such as breast pads, nipple shields, maternity bras and expression equipment may have to be factored in when one compares the two.
Benefits for the Baby.
Breast milk is tailored for your baby and it is adaptive to the babies needs. When your baby is successfully breastfeeding, it requires no additional fluids or supplements for the first 6months, unless there is a medical complication or if you have been instructed to by a health professional. This is true even on very hot days, such as what we experience commonly here in Queensland. Your baby may want to feed more frequently, just as you drink more but the breast milk provided you are maintaining your hydration adapts accordingly.
Infection: Breast-fed babies have fewer infections in their early life. The main reason for this is that antibodies are passed in
the breast milk from mother to baby. Antibodies are proteins that help to fight infection. Compared with babies
who are not breast-fed, babies who are breast-fed have less diarrhoea and vomit less often; they are prone to
fewer chest infections, have fewer ear infections and are less likely to need to be admitted to hospital.
Cot Death sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): There is a lot of evidence from research that show this is less common in breast-fed babies. The fact that breast-fed babies have fewer infections is possibly a contributing factor.
Developmental Factors: Performance in childhood intelligence tests is better in children who have been breast-fed compared with those who have been bottle-fed.
Bonding and Security: There is evidence to support that breastfeeding assists with the bonding process between mother and infant and infant and mother. Early contact of skin between mother and baby is strongly recommended irrespective to how you are choosing to feed.
Constipation and Digestion: Breastfed babies are less prone to constipation, breastfeeding assist in the expulsion of mucous and facilitates the growth of healthy bowel beneficial bacteria, essential in maintaining neonatal well being. This is especially important for premature or babies that require Neonatal Intensive Care or Special Care Nursery assistance and you will be fully assisted and encourage to breastfeed or express in these instances reaffirming these benefits.
Long Term Health Benefits:
There is now good evidence from research studies that, on average, the following health problems in later life are
less common in those who had been breast-fed compared with those who had not:
- Obesity and overweight.
- Type 2 diabetes.
Exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of life provides maximum benefit. However, even in partially
breast-fed babies and in those who are breast-fed for a shorter time, there is still a reduction in the risk of
developing the above diseases.
Cow's milk should not be introduced for feeds until after the baby is 1 year of age (although cheese, yoghurts and
milk on cereals are fine for weaning).
More Information: Breastfeeding General advice / Breastfeeding Common Problems / Resources