image of a mother with her newborn baby

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mother and Child

The birth of your child is an exciting and momentous occasion, and it comes with many important decisions. What will their name be? Where will they sleep? What do they need to thrive? One decision you will make right away is whether or not to breastfeed. At Loyola Medicine, we recommend the guidance of The American Academy of Pediatrics: breastfeeding as the only source of nutrition for your baby for at least the first six months of life. While formula is perfectly safe and may be an acceptable alternative in certain situations, it doesn't have the extra, active ingredients of breast milk that help protect your baby from illnesses. 

Breastfeeding is proven to be incredibly beneficial for your baby, yourself and your relationship. 

Benefits for baby:

  • Breastfeeding is great for your baby's immune system. It helps prevent infections, inflammation and illness. 
  • It protects against bladder and ear infections.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to have tooth decay and tummy issues.
  • Breastfeeding helps protects babies against diabetes, asthma and obesity as they age.
  • Breastfeeding decreases your baby's risk of SIDS/SUIDs.

Benefits for mom:

  • Breastfeeding helps you recover faster. Breastfeeding moms typically return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster than moms that do not breastfeed. 
  • Breastfeeding moms have less vaginal bleeding and the uterus returns to normal size more quickly.
  • Breastfeeding moms have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression. 
  • Breast milk is extremely convenient! It is always available at the right temperature whenever and wherever your baby is ready. 
  • Breast milk is free! You will not run out of breast milk as your body responds to your baby's needs. This will save you a ton of money in the long run.

Benefits for both mom and baby: 

Breastfeeding helps you build an emotional bond with your baby. It is a great opportunity for skin-to-skin contact, keeps your baby warm and steadies both of your heartbeats. 

Breastfeeding is especially important for premature babies. Premature breast milk is different than full-term breast milk. Preterm breast milk is meant to fulfill the needs of your baby at whatever gestational age he/she was born at and continues to change as he/she gets older. 

Additional benefits for premature babies:

  • Better brain development 
  • Fewer life-threatening infections
  • Fewer feeding problems
  • Lower risk for developing allergies and eczema 
  • Stronger bones when they are older
  • Higher IQ scores when they are older
  • Fewer cases of high blood pressure when they are older

The benefits of breastfeeding will follow your baby throughout their entire life. From infection-fighting antibodies to a deeper connection with you, choosing to breastfeed is one of the best decisions you can make for your child. 

The labor and delivery department at Loyola Medicine offers a level III Perinatal Center, NICU, maternal-fetal medicine services and onsite coverage subspecialty services, including board-certified maternal-fetal medicine physicians, neonatologists and pediatric anesthesiologists. 

Loyola is the only academic medical center in the Chicago area to win the coveted Baby-Friendly USA designation, a reflection of our dedication to help mothers successfully breastfeed their newborns. Our comfortable rooms are outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and support rooming-in for mothers and their babies.