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11 Benefits Of Breastfeeding Every Parent Needs To Know

11 Benefits Of Breastfeeding Every Parent Needs To Know

Deciding whether to breastfeed your child or not is a personal matter, one only you and your spouse can make. However, there are many scientifically proven benefits that suggest breastfeeding is the way to go—even if you can only manage to do it for a few months. Before you decide either way, make sure you know all the facts. Here are 11 benefits of breastfeeding that every parent needs to know.

1. Breastfeeding protects your baby from illnesses.

Breast milk not only contains all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs to live, it also has qualities to protect your child from illnesses. Studies have shown that stomach viruses, ear infections, lower respiratory illnesses, and meningitis occur less often in babies who are fed breast milk, and instances of these illnesses are less severe when they do happen. The benefits last long beyond infancy to protect against type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease.

2. Breastfeeding can keep your baby from developing allergies.

Your body produces a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) that forms a protective layer over the mucous membranes in your baby’s intestines, nose, and throat. This is what protects against illnesses, but it also helps prevent allergic reactions to food. Because your baby has this protective layer over his or her intestines as a result of ingesting breast milk, there is a lower risk of the inflammation that leads to allergic reactions and other health problems.

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3. Breastfeeding may boost your baby’s intelligence.

Scientific studies have shown that babies who were breastfed until later in infancy had higher scores on IQ and vocabulary tests. These scores increased relative to how long the baby had been breastfed! The fatty acids in breast milk more than likely play the biggest role in contributing to brainpower benefits.

4. Breastfeeding may protect your child from obesity.

It might seem too early to worry about obesity, but breastfeeding your baby now can prevent childhood and teenage obesity! Studies show breastfeeding helps prevent obesity because breastfed babies are better at eating until they’re satisfied, which sets the stage for healthier eating patterns when they’re older. Breast milk contains less insulin, which stimulates the creation of fat, than formula. Breastfed babies also have more leptin in their system, which is a hormone that regulates appetite and fat.

5. Breastfeeding may lower your baby’s risk of SIDS.

The link isn’t clear, but a study done in Germany in 2009 showed that breastfed babies were less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Feeding a baby exclusively breast milk at one month of age cuts the risk of SIDS in half. Since it’s a mysterious occurrence anyway, it’s good to know that there’s a natural way to prevent this happening.

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6. Breastfeeding can reduce your stress level and your risk of postpartum depression.

Nursing triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that relaxes you and promotes the nurturing feeling you need to feel towards your baby. Higher levels of oxytocin lead to lower blood pressure, which reduces your stress and likelihood of depression.

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    7. Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.

    The longer you breastfeed, the more you’re protected against breast and ovarian cancer. It seems that nursing for at least a year has the most protective effect, especially in the case of breast cancer. Lactation suppresses the amount of estrogen your body produces, which is of benefit in preventing breast and ovarian cancer.

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    8. Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

    Mothers might experience a bone-mineral loss while they’re breastfeeding their baby, but the mineral density is replenished after lactation. It even increases, which helps reduce your risk of osteoporosis later on.

    9. Breastfeeding helps you lose your baby weight faster.

    Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so all that weight you gained during pregnancy can come off faster! Actually, some of the weight you gain during pregnancy is used as an energy source for lactation.

    10. Breastfeeding saves money.

    It’s estimated to cost about $1,200 a year to formula feed your baby, but mothers who breastfeed save about $400 a year! Even if you use a breast pump and bottles instead of feeding your baby personally each time, you’re buying fewer supplies than mothers who exclusively use formula. Giving your baby breast milk doesn’t require you to run to the store, so there’s an added bonus of ease of feeding.

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    11. Breastfeeding gives you time to bond with your baby.

    It was stated above that breastfeeding releases oxytocin, which relaxes you and makes you feel nurturing towards your baby. Factor this in with the time you’ll take out of your day just to sit with your baby and enjoy this short but sweet time of their life.

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    Last Updated on November 15, 2019

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, these bad habits are difficult to break because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

    Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental and emotional health.

    Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

    If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

    Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

    1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

    Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

    Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

    Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

    2. No Motivation

    Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academics and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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    This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family and life in general.

    If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

    3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

    Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to break bad habits.

    A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to eventually become a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

    A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

    The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

    4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

    One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

    We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

    Over-eating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of crisps, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are needed by us. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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    You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

    5. Upward Comparisons

    Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

    The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

    These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

    6. No Alternative

    This is a real and valid reason why bad habits are hard to break. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

    Someone who has physical or psychological limitations such as a disability or social anxiety may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

    Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

    Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

    7. Stress

    As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing bad habits.

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    When a person is stressed about something, it is easy to give in to a bad habit because the mental resources required to fight them are not available.

    Stress plays such a huge role in this that we commonly find a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

    8. Sense of Failure

    People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

    Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

    Over-eaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store.

    Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

    If such people slip even once with a glass of wine or a smoke or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

    9. The Need to Be All-New

    People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

    These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit.

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    10. Force of Habit

    Humans are creatures of habit and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

    Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or munching on crisps when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

    These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

    Final Thoughts

    These are the main reasons why bad habits may be difficult to break but it is important to remember that the task is not impossible.

    Do you have bad habits you want to kick? My article How to Break a Bad Habit (and Replace It With a Good One) gives you tips on well, how to kick bad habits while my other article How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You gives realistic information on what to expect while you’re trying to quit them.

    There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

    Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?

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