Explaining the benefits of breastfeeding to both infant and mother

Marina Koonooka

BIOL F112x- Summer 2023

Don Larson

Due: 7/27/2023

I breastfed both my kids for 8 months and I enjoyed every minute of it. I knew that breastfeeding was beneficial for my children, but I didn’t know how beneficial it was to me also. For this STEAM project, I will be explaining the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby.

There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding for mothers. I benefited by feeling connected, having a physical and emotional bond with my children through breastfeeding. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding financially, and able to feed their baby anywhere, and at any time. When breastfeeding, our body produces oxytocin that promote mothering behaviors. Other psychological benefits that breastfeeding mothers receive is lower inflammation levels, which reduces stress. Health benefits of breastfeeding lowers mothers’ risks for diseases and conditions such as cancers to the breasts, ovaries, endometrium, and thyroid. Breastfeeding can also lower other health risks like osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesteremia, and postpartum depression. Some women also lose weight from breastfeeding because of the caloric output. Breastfeeding also helps with a quicker recovery time from childbirth because of the positive feedback loop of oxytocin being produced.

Just like having numerous benefits as mother, the baby benefits from breastfeeding tremendously. Psychologically, because of the closeness or skin to skin contact, infants learn best in a context of emotional closeness with an adult. Breastfeeding also increases calmness in the infant causing them to cry less overall. Research shows that breastfeeding creates a healthier behavioral and mental health in children. Breastfed children have stronger critical and reasoning skills, better memory, earlier linguistic skills, and enhanced motor skills. Psychologically, breastfeeding strengthens the emotional bond, and intimacy between mother and baby. Breastfeeding promotes an important growing attachment style for both mother and baby.

Breast milk is recommended as the infant’s sole source of nutrition. Its easier for digestion for the baby’s stomach and intestines. It has the right number of nutritional factors for development and growth and promotes health weight gain. Breast milk also provides immune protection, and metabolism for the infant. Breast milk contains hormones, neuropeptides, and growth factors that may affect growth, development, and self-regulation of food intake. The hormones include leptin which suppresses appetite, and infant serum leptin is positively correlated with breast milk. Another hormone involved is Ghrelin which stimulates appetite and has a higher concentration in breast milk than in hindmilk. The antibody IgA is higher in colostrum, however, there is antibodies constantly throughout the breastfeeding period which provides protection and helps the infant fight infections. Protective effects of breastfeeding lowers ricks of diarrhea, vomiting, preterm necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), asthma, whooping cough, ear infections, bacterial meningitis, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood obesity, eczema, type 2 diabetes, childhood cancers such as leukemia, orthodontic problems such as cavities, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

            Breastfeeding is beneficial to both mother and infant psychologically, medically, and emotionally. Breastfeeding can protect and prevent against short-term and long-term illnesses and diseases in both mother and infant.

Dieterich, C. M., Felice, J. P., O’Sullivan, E., & Rasmussen, K. M. (2013, February). Breastfeeding and health outcomes for the mother-infant dyad. Pediatric clinics of North America. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508512/

Human milk: Composition and health benefits: La Pediatria Medica E chirurgica. Human milk: composition and health benefits | La Pediatria Medica e Chirurgica. (n.d.). https://www.pediatrmedchir.org/pmc/article/view/155/160

Krol, K. M., & Grossmann, T. (2018, August). Psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and Mothers. Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6096620/