Have you ever heard the saying breast is best? Or have you been in a conversation with a new mum where she spends ten minutes explaining why she switched to bottle feeding when all you asked was ‘how’s it all going?’ The topic of breastfeeding is one that brings up a lot of strong feelings, both good and bad. Most people understand that yes, ‘breast is best’ but I’ve found that many don’t know why that is.
Here at Mum Will Know, my goal is to do the research, talk with the experts and knuckle down on educating myself and other mums/mums to be, so that we can be well-informed and confident in the parenting decisions we make. Listen in as I zoom in on some breastfeeding basics. Not how to, but why to. Why breastfeed?
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child’s life and then alongside age-appropriate and nutritious complementary foods from 6 months to two years and beyond. In reality though, breastfeeding rates are significantly below this. Most women intend to breastfeed and even start off breastfeeding but the numbers significantly drop over the first few months. Specifically, in Australia, 92% of pregnant women state that they intend to breastfeed however by 4 months of age only 39% of babies are exclusively breastfed and by 6 months that drops to only 15%.
Why? Breastfeeding is hard. A lot harder than people think. From sleep deprivation, cracked and bleeding nipples, low milk supply and sometimes feeling uncomfortable having your breasts exposed in public, there are a lot of reasons women stop breastfeeding. So in today’s episode I thought I’d try and explain why breastfeeding, despite having its challenges, is worth working at. I honestly believe research confirms breastmilk is the best food a newborn can have, so pushing through those first few weeks or months will be so beneficial. And not just for babies… Today in Part 1 of Is Breast Best? I take you through ten benefits of breastfeeding for mothers. Next week will be all about babies, but there are so many good reasons women should breastfeed for their own health!
Here’s a quick overview of what I discuss – but to get all the good information and research-based reasoning, listen in!
Ten benefits of breastfeeding for mothers include:
1. Bonding between mother and child
2. Reduced stress levels
3. It helps reduce blood loss
4. It’s convenient
5. Breastfeeding mothers are more resilient in emergency situations - see comparison photos below that I spoke about
6. It’s free
7. Increases postnatal weight loss
8. Can increase child spacing – a contraceptive in developing countries
9. Reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke
10. It’s more environmentally friendly
These are only some of the many benefits of breastfeeding shown for mothers and as more and more research is conducted, more information and benefits will become known. Breastfeeding is a pretty incredible process and can be such a joyful experience as a mother.
I will say though that I do understand not all mothers can breastfeed, and I touch on this in the episode.
So, listen in and let me know your thoughts.
Subscribe through your podcast app so you don’t miss out on next week’s Part 2 of Is Breast Best?
And if you’re keen to do some more reading about breastfeeding, check out the many links below.
Have a good week!
Evacuating with a baby? Here's what to put in your emergency kit
The influence of infant feeding attitudes on breastfeeding duration: evidence from a cohort study in rural Western Australia
Prevalence and determinants of cessation of exclusive breastfeeding in the early postnatal period in Sydney, Australia
Determinants of breastfeeding initiation among mothers in Sydney, Australia: findings from a birth cohort study
A commentary on the carbon footprint of milk formula: harms to planetary health and policy implications
Breastfeeding may help protect mothers against stroke
It’s okay to breastfeed in public but…
Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2018 and Beyond
Photo by Bec Wood @wild.flow.her