What does breastfeeding do for your body?

Author: Lindsey Ulrich


"Breastfeeding has amazing benefits for both mom and baby. It not only helps with bonding, but it has both physical and emotional advantages."

August is National Breastfeeding Month. Breastfeeding has many advantages for baby, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months followed by continuation for one year or longer as foods are introduced, but there are tremendous benefits for mother as well.

“Breastfeeding has amazing benefits for both mom and baby,” said Tammy Ashley, RN, MSN, CFNP, nurse practitioner and certified lactation consultant at McLaren Greater Lansing. “It not only helps with bonding, but it has both physical and emotional advantages.”

Breastfeeding can help boost the mother’s body for a faster post-partum recovery and even decrease post-partum depression. Breastfeeding also burns extra calories, so it can help those who breastfeed lose pregnancy weight faster. Long-term benefits for mothers include a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

The benefits for infants who are breastfed not only extend to their growth and development; breastfed infants also have a lower risk of developing asthma, obesity, diabetes, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Breast milk contains optimal nutrition loaded with antibodies that help protect both baby and mom against certain infections and illnesses.

“When the mom is exposed to viruses or bacteria, their body starts producing antibodies that then go into the milk,” said Ashley. “These antibodies transfer to the baby and help boost their immune system and ability to fight off infections.”

While breastfeeding offers numerous benefits both short and long term, it can also present challenges. McLaren Greater Lansing provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient lactation services to new moms and babies who require assistance. Most appointments are covered through insurance.

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