If a mom chooses to breastfeed, there are breastfeeding benefits for both mom and baby.
Breastfeeding benefits for moms
- Health — lowering the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, endometriosis, osteoporosis and hypertension. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of developing postpartum depression.
- Convenience — if breastfeeding works for you, breast milk is always ready and available
- Financial — breastfeeding is less expensive than formula feeding
- More sleep — studies show breastfeeding parents sleep an average of 40-45 minutes more than parents who formula feed
Breastfeeding benefits for babies
- Breastmilk is the gold standard of nutrition, and changes as the baby ages to meet their changing needs.
- Breastmilk lowers the baby’s risk of developing many health issues and illnesses including ear infections, allergies, Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, SIDS, heart disease, obesity, leukemia, lymphoma and asthma.
- Breastmilk contains antibodies, stem cells and white blood cells.
- Breastmilk contains probiotics, which support the immune system and microbiome.
Can moms and babies reap breastfeeding benefits through pumping?
Rosenthal says yes — pumping allows a support person to help with feeds, offers options for feeding in public or while traveling, and may be a tool used to increase milk supply.
"Most parents will need to pump when they return to work," she told TODAY. "Pumping allows breastfeeding parents to maintain their milk supply, avoid health issues like plugged ducts and mastitis and provide breastmilk for their baby."
Rosenthal said that she recommends new moms connect with a lactation consultant during pregnancy, who will be able to support families for the duration of feeding, from first latch to weaning.
"Even when breastfeeding is going well, your IBCLC will be there to answer questions as they arise and make feeding easier," she said, adding she also recommends taking a group prenatal breastfeeding class. "Whether it’s your first baby or you’re an experienced breastfeeding parent, taking those two steps sets you up for success."