World Breastfeeding Week is upon us from August 1 – 7, 2015. While moms have been having and caring for their babies since the beginning of time, this week helps bring awareness and education to breastfeeding. With facts and opinions flying all over the place, it’s nice to have some simple straightforward information on the bonuses of breastfeeding.
1) Helps Uterus to Shrink in Size
During pregnancy, the uterus expands in size to accommodate an ever-growing baby. When Baby nurses, there is a release of a neurotransmitter called oxytocin which helps contract the uterus. This contraction decreases post-delivery blood loss while also shrinking the size of the uterus.
After delivery the uterus begins the process of involution — the return to prepregnancy size. In breastfeeding women, involution takes about six weeks, compared to 10 weeks for women who do not breastfeed postpartum.
2) Less Trips to the Doctor Now and Down the Road
Breastfeeding helps with postpartum healing and reduces baby’s chances of developing infections. Plus it may help prevent or postpone other chronic illnesses. All of this translates into less time and money spent at the doctor’s office.
3) Saves a Ton of Money
Economists may be the last advocates you'd expect to endorse breastfeeding. Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar got to the bottom line of breastfeeding. He found that the average cost of feeding an infant formula in the first year is $1733.75!
That’s a lot of money. Even purchasing a high-end breast pump and accessories won’t come close to that figure.
In 2010, a study conducted by The American Academy of Pediatrics, and published in the journal Pediatrics , found that if 90 percent of American mothers exclusively breastfed infants for the first six months it would save the United States about $13 billion, and prevent over 900 deaths infant deaths a year.
4) Major Calorie Burner
Breastfeeding your baby causes you to burn an estimated 400 to 500 calories per day! Sitting, bonding and nourishing your baby throughout the day burns more calories than most gym workouts.
Yes, you’ll have an increase in appetite in the initial months of breastfeeding, but it does even out. The trick is to keep healthy foods on hand at home, and make the best choices possible when out and about. Pack some awesome snacks for yourself in that new adorable diaper bag.
5) Simple Logistics
When you ask moms what they love most about breastfeeding, you hear beautiful stories of bonding and very honest comments about the convenience.
Not having to wake up enough in the middle of the night to properly measure formula and perfectly heated water helps moms get more sleep, whether they choose to co-sleep with their infants or not.
Additionally, caring for a new human life comes with a lot of new priorities and chores. But having to properly clean, dry and store bottles and nipples isn’t on that list for moms who exclusively breastfeed. Yes, if mom pumps, there will be some of that, but not like full-formula feeding requires.
Less to pack around in the already overflowing diaper bag! There is plenty as it is to carry around for the baby's needs — and to be prepared for any diaper blowout a baby can have. A woman’s breasts are already part of her body. No bottles, baby water and formula to tote around. And best of all, there’s never a recall on breastmilk.
However a mother chooses to feed her child is her choice, and truly the most important thing is that the baby is cared for and loved. It is helpful to know all the facts and benefits of breastfeeding before baby arrives. The new mom is then equiped to make the choice that works best for her.
Billions of women have breastfed and will breastfeed for the span of humanity. Knowing that, and having all the facts are great, but sometimes it comes down to knowing that it can really make life easier. That's priceless when you're taking on the world’s hardest and most important job — being a mother.
Surprising Breastfeeding Benefits. Accessed August 5, 2015. FitPregnancy.com.
The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis. Pediatrics. Accessed August 5, 2015.
Involution and Lochia. Birthsource.com. Accessed August 6, 2015.
Reviewed August 6, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith