3 August, 2021
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be really hard work. At times, it can feel impossible with difficulty latching, infections and fatigue and so much else going on.
Yet you push on. Why? Maybe because you instinctively feel that there's benefits for breastfeeding go far beyond your current pain and difficulties.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby
- Higher IQs (Horta, Mola, & Victora 2015)
- Larger brains (Luby, Belden, Whalen, Harms, & Barch, 2016, p. 367)
- Reduce risk of childhood leukaemia (Amitay & Keinan-Boker 2015)
- Easier to digest as it's 50-80% whey protein (rather than largely casein protein in formulas)
- Less likely to be overweight as a teenager (Moore, 2018)
- Less likely to develop Diabetes later in life (Patelarou et al., 2012)
- Less likely to develop middle ear infections (Lodge, Bowatte, Matheson, & Dharmage, 2016)
- For every month of breastfeeding, there's a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (Thompson et al., 2017)
- Prevents development of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) like Crohn's (Xu et al., 2017)
- Less likely to develop allergies, asthma, allergy-related illnesses and recurring wheezes (van den Elsen, Garssen, Burcelin, & Verhasselt, 2019) (Verduci et al., 2017)
- Better oral and facial development to help with speech and language production (Thomaz et al., 2018)
- More than six months of breastfeeding is protective against lymphoid cancer (Moore, 2018)
- The nipples detect if the baby is unwell or lacking in nutrients to provide what the baby needs
- Better bone mineralisation and decreased chance of osteoporosis later in life
- Hormones in breastmilk are thought to shape infant's temperament
- Better gut microbiome
One study found that 30% of babies' beneficial gut bacteria comes directly from the mothers' milk and another 10% from the breast skin (Mueller et al. 2015). The micobiome development is disrupted by C-sections, antibiotics (either during pregnancy, birth or after birth) and formula feeding (Pannaraj et al. 2017). Disruptions to the gut microbiome is now being linked to many diseases and ailments.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mum
Breastfeeding has many benefits for the lactating mumma such as lowering the risk of:
- Ovarian cancer (Li 2014)
- Breast cancer (Zhou et al. 2015)
- Endometrial cancer (Jordan 2017)
- Postpartum depression (Binns, Lee, & Low 2016)
- Type 2 Diabetes (Binns, Lee, & Low 2016)
- Multiple sclerosis (Conradi 2012)
- Postpartum uterine / placental bleeding (Uvnas-Moberg 1996)
- Cardiovascular disease (Kirkegaard et al. 2018) (Schwarz et al. 2009)
- High cholesterol (Schwarz et al. 2009)
- High blood pressure (Binns, Lee, & Low 2016)
In fact, any breastfeeding at all reduces the changes of breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer (Zhou et al. 2015)
(Li 2014) (Jordan 2017). The longer the breastfeeding continues for, the biggest the reduction in risk of these cancer that there is for the breastfeeding mumma (Zhou et al. 2015) (Li 2014) (Jordan 2017).
In some nationalities, this may be more pronounced than others. A Sri Lankan study showed that collectively breastfeeding for 2-3 years across all their children, resulted in an 88% decreased risk of developing breast cancer (De Silva, Senarath, Gunatilake, & Lokuhetty 2010).
About the Author
Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Sleep Coach, Postpartum Doula (in-training), Perinatal Yoga & Pilates Instructor
There's a lot of change that happens for both parents and babies in the first few months after birth. There's tremendous growth and development for the bubba. Parents need to learn new (or remember and relearn with subsequent kids) how to look after a child. Mother's bodies are healing from pregnancy & birth and the new challenges of breastfeeding.
This is a passion area for Cassie. She helps support her clients through this transition with Chiropractic, Yoga & Pilates, Sleep Coaching and Doula support services.
Similar articles you'll enjoy:
- Amitay, E. L., & Keinan-Boker, L. (2015). Breastfeeding and childhood leukemia incidence: a meta-analysis and systematic review. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(6), e151025-e151025. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1025
- Binns, C., Lee, M., & Low, W. Y. (2016). The long-term public health benefits of breastfeeding. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 28(1), 7-14. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1010539515624964
- Horta, B. L., & de Lima, N. P. (2019). Breastfeeding and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Diabetes Reports, 19(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11892-019-1121-x
- Horta, B. L., Loret de Mola, C., & Victora, C. G. (2015). Breastfeeding and intelligence: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Acta Paediatrica, 104, 14-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.13139
- Horta, B. L., Victora, C. G., & World Health Organization. (2013). Short-term effects of breastfeeding: a systematic review on the benefits of breastfeeding on diarrhoea and pneumonia mortality. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/95585/9789241506120_eng.pdf
- Jordan, S. J., Na, R., Johnatty, S. E., Wise, L. A., Adami, H. O., Brinton, L. A., ... & Freudenheim, J. L. (2017). Breastfeeding and endometrial cancer risk: an analysis from the epidemiology of endometrial cancer consortium. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 129(6), 1059. https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000002057
- Kirkegaard H, Bliddal M, Støvring H, Rasmussen KM, Gunderson EP, Køber L & Nohr EA (2018). Breastfeeding and later maternal risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease—The role of overall and abdominal obesity. Preventive Medicine. 114:140– 148.
- Li, D. P., Du, C., Zhang, Z. M., Li, G. X., Yu, Z. F., Wang, X., ... & Zhao, Y. S. (2014). Breastfeeding and ovarian cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 40 epidemiological studies. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 15(12), 4829-4837. https://doi.org/10.7314/APJCP.2014.15.12.4829
- Lodge, C. J., Bowatte, G., Matheson, M. C., & Dharmage, S. C. (2016). The role of breastfeeding in childhood otitis media. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, 16(9), 68. Retrieved from https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/220613/The+Role+of+Breastfeeding+in+Childhood+Otitis+Media.pdf?sequence=1
- Luby, J. L., Belden, A. C., Whalen, D., Harms, M. P., & Barch, D. M. (2016). Breastfeeding and childhood IQ: The mediating role of gray matter volume. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(5), 367-375. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2016.02.009
- Moore, M. L. (2018). Breastfeeding Benefits Support–Research. Scientific Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 1(1), 2. Retrieved from https://www.onomyscience.com/admin/uploads/20200116133737.pdf
- Mueller N, Backacs E, Combellick J, Grigoryan Z & Dominguez-Bello M (2015). The infant microbiome development: Mom matters. Trends in Molecular Medicine. 21(2):109– 117
- Pannaraj P, Li F, Cerini C, et al. (2017). Association between breast milk bacterial communities and establishment and
- Patelarou, E., Girvalaki, C., Brokalaki, H., Patelarou, A., Androulaki, Z., & Vardavas, C. (2012). Current evidence on the associations of breastfeeding, infant formula, and cow’s milk introduction with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, 70(9), 509-519. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00513.x
- Schwarz EB, Ray RM, Stuebe AM, Allison MA, Ness RB, Freiberg MS, et al. (2009). Duration of lactation and risk factors for maternal cardiovascular disease. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 113(5):974–82
- Thompson, J. M., Tanabe, K., Moon, R. Y., Mitchell, E. A., McGarvey, C., Tappin, D., ... & Hauck, F. R. (2017). Duration of breastfeeding and risk of SIDS: an individual participant data meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 140(5). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-1324
- Thomaz, E. B. A. F., Alves, C. M. C., Gomes e Silva, L. F., Ribeiro de Almeida, C. C. C., Soares de Britto e Alves, M. T. S., Hilgert, J. B., & Wendland, E. M. (2018). Breastfeeding versus bottle feeding on malocclusion in children: a meta-analysis study. Journal of Human Lactation, 34(4), 768-788. https://doi.org/10.1177/0890334418755689
- van den Elsen, L. W., Garssen, J., Burcelin, R., & Verhasselt, V. (2019). Shaping the gut microbiota by breastfeeding: the gateway to allergy prevention?. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 7, 47. https://doi.org/10.3389/fped.2019.00047
- Xu, L., Lochhead, P., Ko, Y., Claggett, B., Leong, R. W., & Ananthakrishnan, A. N. (2017). Systematic review with meta‐analysis: breastfeeding and the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 46(9), 780-789. https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.14291
- Zhou, Y., Chen, J., Li, Q., Huang, W., Lan, H., & Jiang, H. (2015). Association between breastfeeding and breast cancer risk: evidence from a meta-analysis. Breastfeeding Medicine, 10(3), 175-182. https://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2014.0141