Benefits of Breastfeeding

Making the choice as to how to feed your baby is an important decision – one that will have lifelong effects for you and your child. The staff at Texas Children’s Hospital and the Pavilion for Women believe breast milk is the best possible food for newborn babies. To make sure women have the information they need, all women receive information about the benefits of breastfeeding from their doctor at the Pavilion for Women during their prenatal visits. Some of these benefits include:

It's nutritious

Breast milk is loaded with nutrients – particularly specific types of fat – that promote brain growth and development of the nervous system. In fact, studies have shown children who were breastfed as babies score higher on intelligence tests and have better eye function. In addition, babies can digest and utilize the sugars and protein in breast milk more completely and efficiently than those in formulas.

It helps fight infections

Only breast milk has several types of active cells, including antibodies, that help prevent infections in babies. Research shows that babies who receive breast milk have lower levels of infections of the ears, as well as the gastrointestinal, respiratory and urinary systems. Because of these special cells, if a breastfed baby gets an infection, it usually is not as serious or long lasting.

It's easier to digest

Newborns' digestive tracts are not fully matured, and they need nourishment that is easy to digest. Breast milk provides a nutritious food that your baby's body can easily process. All the great ingredients that make breast milk so good for your baby are completely available to help him grow healthy and strong.

It's more suited to baby's body

Breast milk is designed just for babies, and it's perfect for their developing bodies. Research shows this is a reason breastfed babies have lower rates of allergies and asthma.

Benefits for Baby and Mother

More and more studies prove that breastfeeding gives newborn babies the best possible start toward a lifetime of good health. Breastfed babies have:

  • Fewer ear infections
  • Less risk of asthma, food allergies and dental cavities
  • Protection against diarrhea and gastrointestinal and respiratory infections
  • Enhanced nervous system development and higher IQ levels
  • Less risk of some childhood cancers
  • Possible protection against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Lower rate of childhood obesity
  • Fewer food aversions when they’re older
  • Appropriate jaw, teeth, facial and speech development

Mothers who breastfeed have:

  • Less risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer
  • Lower chance of osteoporosis later in life
  • Quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight levels
  • A natural, healthy source of food for their babies, even during times of emergency when normal supplies of food and water might not be available
  • Less chance of becoming pregnant before menstruation returns

Both mother and baby benefit because breastfeeding:

  • Allows for deeper bonding between mother and baby due to the close skin-to-skin contact and maternal hormones released during feeding
  • Saves time
  • Saves money
  • Is better for the planet because it requires no packaging or manufacturing and causes no waste