These are just a few of the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby:
Breast milk is like a daily vaccination against every bug your baby comes in contact with: it is a living fluid containing healthy bacteria, antibodies, white blood cells, antimicrobials and cell wall protectors and proteins that offer protection against bacteria and viruses. This means that you will not be spending hours, nights or weeks pacing the floor with an unhappy, unwell baby.
If you catch a bug, specialized white blood cells will appear in your breast milk to protect your baby. Conversely, if your baby becomes sick, the transfer of germs from baby to your breast will trigger the production of specific antibodies. These antibodies will be deposited into your milk to boost your baby’s immunity and help her fight off illness. This means that you can take your baby out without the stress of worrying, could my child get sick? And, even if your baby is in childcare, where he may be exposed to other children’s bugs, he will be protected by the immune factors in your milk.
In many instances, the long-term protective effects of breastfeeding are related to its duration. Children breast fed for more than six months have one-third the number of middle-ear infections in the first three years of life than formula fed babies, the incidence of allergies is reduced sevenfold, and infants are also protected against bacterial meningitis in their first five years.
The risks of a number of serious disorders, such as coeliac disease and insulin-dependent diabetes increase when babies aren’t breast fed. Your milk also protects your baby against childhood lymphoma, multiple sclerosis and chronic liver diseases.
When you breastfeed your baby girl, you reduce her risk of developing breast cancer later in life by 25 percent. Because breastfeeding also lowers your own risk of breast cancer, you could be saving two lives!