1. It releases bonding hormones.
Just like kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact), breastfeeding releases the “bonding hormone” oxytocin. The same hormone that’s released when you hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin provides a feeling of closeness between you and baby while it moves milk toward the front of your breasts — the process known as letdown.
2. It may lower the risk of childhood cancers…
On top of giving baby a healthy start with your breast milk’s antibodies, which help protect baby from the cold and flu, breastfeeding may even boost his ability to fight off more serious stuff. A study published in the Journal of Human Lactation found high levels of the cancer-fighting TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) in human milk. This means better protection against illnesses like lymphoblastic leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease.
3. ...and breast cancer in moms!
Get this: Moms who breastfed were 1.5 times less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who didn’t in a study from Columbia University. And the more children they breastfed, the lower their risk became. According to the National Cancer Institute, breastfeeding is associated with decreased risk of ovarian cancer too.
4. It may boost baby’s brainpower.
Add breastfeeding to the list of ways to get an edge on the SATs. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry followed nearly 14,000 children over the course of six-and-a-half years, and the kids who were exclusively breastfed had a significantly higher average IQ test score than those who weren’t. Plus, on average, they received higher ratings from their teachers.
5. You could save on braces.
The longer you breastfeed, the lower the likelihood that baby will suffer from malocclusion — a fancy word for misalignment of the teeth and dental arches. A study from Brazil suggests that breastfeeding for more than nine months is the most effective way to prevent malocclusion.
6. Diaper changes won’t be as stinky.
Moms in our circle swear that breastfed babies have sweeter smelling poop than formula-fed babies, whose stools smell more like, well, adult poop. Formula isn’t quite as easily digested, and the remnants that are left behind make the poop bulkier and pungent.
7. Allergies and ailments are no biggie.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, food allergies, eczema and asthma are less common in babies breastfed for at least four months — likely due to colostrum and breast milk’s influence on immune responses in a newborn’s lymphoid tissue. Translation: fewer trips to the doctor’s office.
8. It’s super-convenient.
Breastfeeding allows you to dole out the perfect portion of ready-to-serve milk at baby’s beck and call. There’s no boiling or mixing necessary. You’ve just become the most efficient short-order cook around.
9. Oh, and it'll save you a ton of cash too.
Believe it or not, formula and supplies for just six months can cost upwards of $1,500. While double electric breast pumps can be pricey — some go for more than $200 — many insurance plans will cover them.
10. You may fit into your skinny jeans faster!
Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories a day. And while not every nursing mom drops back into their pre-pregnancy weight in a flash, plenty give breastfeeding props for helping them lose some of the pounds.
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