The Benefits of Breastfeeding

By Sherry Baker @SherryNewsViews
August 11, 2023
The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding benefits help your baby get a healthy start in life. The advantages of breastfeeding extend to moms, too, boosting physical and emotional health.

Breast milk is known to be the best source of nutrition for most babies. One of the remarkable advantages of breastfeeding is that your breast milk changes over time to provide the nutrition a growing baby needs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding as soon as possible after your baby is born, usually within the first hour, and nursing whenever your infant shows signs of hunger. The AAP also urges exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, while you gradually add solid foods, and continuing until at least the child’s first birthday, so your baby continues to have the health benefits of breastfeeding.

While the advantages of breastfeeding for babies are well-established, there are breastfeeding benefits for moms, too. Nursing is associated with a reduced risk of several diseases — including some forms of cancer — as well as other health and emotional benefits.


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Breastfeeding benefits the immune system

Breastfeeding can protect your baby against a wide variety of short-term and long-term infections and diseases, the CDC notes.

Breast milk provides all the protein, sugar, and fat a baby needs. It also has white blood cells, enzymes, and other substances beneficial for your baby’s immune system that are not found in formulas. Human milk also contains prebiotics, substances that encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in a breastfed infant’s intestinal tract and inhibit the growth of illness-causing bacteria, such as E. coli.

The immune system benefits of breastfeeding lower the odds your child will suffer from:

Researchers have found babies under the age of one who received breast milk for only at least months were less likely to be hospitalized for a lower respiratory tract infection, including pneumonia and croup, than formula-fed infants.

What’s more, even infants exposed to more germs because they are in group child care programs are less likely to become sick if their moms breastfeed or provide mothers’ milk in a bottle, according to the AAP.

Breastfeeding may help with allergy prevention, too, if allergies tend to run in your family. There is also some evidence breastfed babies are less likely to have milk allergy, eczema, and wheezing early in life if they are fed breast milk exclusively for at least four months.

More health benefits of breastfeeding for your baby

You may hesitate to breastfeed if you develop a cold — but there’s no reason to stop nursing. Instead, another advantage of breastfeeding is your breast milk will contain antibodies fighting the cold, and you’ll pass them on to your baby. That will help your infant either avoid getting sick from your cold or recover from the virus quickly and effectively, according to the AAP.

Children who receive breast milk for six months or longer are also less likely than formula-fed infants to develop several serious and potentially life-threatening diseases — including childhood acute leukemia and lymphoma.

Moreover, several studies have shown between a 36 and 50 percent reduction in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome if babies are breastfed. In addition, the AAP points out researchers have documented breastfed infants are less likely to become obese as teens and adults. They also have a lower risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, compared to youngsters who were not nursed.

Moms receive health benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can help mothers feel physically and emotionally connected with their babies. The feelings come from the impact of hormones that nursing releases. Prolactin produces a feeling of peace and relaxation, and oxytocin promotes a nurturing sense of attachment and affection. Oxytocin also causes your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding.

Health benefits of breastfeeding for moms also include:

  • Because breastfeeding uses up extra calories, mothers who nurse can lose their pregnancy weight quickly and easily.
  • Women who have breastfed have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life. 
  • Research suggests breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure.


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August 11, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN