Breastfeeding Beneficial to Baby and Mom

Adventist Health Simi Valley supports baby and mom

Did you know that breastfeeding offers a lifetime of health benefits to both moms and babies? Babies who are breastfed have fewer illnesses while they are breastfeeding and a better immune system for decades to come. As adults, breastfed babies will have significant reductions in chronic illness, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses.

Babies who are fed breast milk have stronger bones and are less likely to deal with obesity. They also have nearly a 50 percent reduction in risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Moms receive benefits too! Women who breastfeed have less of a chance of developing hormone-related breast and reproductive cancers later in life. They also have a greatly reduced risk of developing osteoporosis as they age.

Bonding for success

Breastfeeding isn’t easy, but it can be easier when the natural progression of bonding can take place. There is no better way to begin this process with your newborn than to experience skin-to-skin contact just moments after delivery.

This “golden hour” is a precious period of time that provides a great opportunity for breastfeeding instincts to be switched on in both mom and baby. Skin-to-skin contact also eases the transition from the womb to the “outside world,” lessens the need for medical intervention and helps the newborn regulate heartbeat, breathing and temperature.

The birthing program at Adventist Health Simi Valley supports new moms with this precious bonding time, as well as the personalized lactation education they need to confidently and successfully breastfeed their babies.

History repeats itself

For centuries, breastfeeding wasn’t even a question; it was the only option. When baby formula came into widespread usage in the 1950s, it gave mothers a viable alternative for feeding. As is often the case with trends, the traditional method of breastfeeding suddenly felt outdated. Formula-feeding was king for a few decades.

Research studies, however, have proven over and over again that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh those of formula for the vast majority of mothers and their babies. Fortunately, both the medical community and new parents are once again embracing this traditional, but very effective, feeding option.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that moms breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their baby’s life. (That means no formula or other types of nutrition.) Furthermore, the AAP says that breastfeeding should continue through the first year of life, supplemented by solid food beginning at six months, and then for as long as both baby and mom are comfortable doing so.

Better for baby

Breastfeeding for even this brief amount of time provides lifelong benefits for your baby:

  • Proper nutrition: Breast milk contains a perfect balance of vitamins, proteins and fat — all the things your baby needs during their first weeks of life. The milk you produce immediately after giving birth, called colostrum, may look a bit strange, but it is exactly what your baby needs to kick-start their digestive system.
  • Disease prevention: Your breast milk is loaded with antibodies and other substances that help your baby grow immune to and fight off a wide array of diseases and conditions. Included among this list are asthma, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea. According to the AAP, breastfeeding can help to prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Some studies have preliminarily concluded that breastfeeding may help lower the risk of diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
  • Proper physical and mental development: Babies who are breastfed tend to grow into a normal weight and avoid becoming overweight. In addition, breastfeeding appears to reduce the number of both doctor visits and hospitalizations among children. According to some studies, breastfeeding can help increase IQ scores as the child grows. Possibly one of the most significant and lasting benefits of breastfeeding is the bond you create with your child through the skin-to-skin contact and physical closeness you share.

Breastfeeding has benefits for you too

  • Recovery:When you breastfeed, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin , which signals your uterus to contract and return to its normal size. This action may also reduce bleeding in your uterus. In addition, breastfeeding burns calories, which can help you shed baby weight.
  • Disease prevention: Women who breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancers, and breastfeeding can reduce the risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Economic benefits: Breast milk is free! It’s also available 24/7, whenever your baby needs it. No rushed trips to the store to buy expensive formula.

Talk with your doctor

Although breastfeeding offers big benefits, there are circumstances — on the mother’s part or the baby’s — when breastfeeding isn’t the best option. That’s why it’s important to talk with your OB/GYN, pediatrician or family physician about breastfeeding and whether or not it’s a good option for you. Chances are, it is.

Because we are so passionate about successful breastfeeding, Adventist Health Simi Valley provides a free breastfeeding support group for our community moms every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the women’s unit. To attend, park in visitor parking, go to the front desk and sign in. You will be shown to the location.​