woman breastfeeding baby

Natural breastfeeding - advantages and disadvantages for mother and child

22. SEPTEMBER 2022


Breastfeeding after pregnancy has many benefits, some of them lifelong benefits depending on how long you breastfeed. The WHO recommends breastfeeding for 4 to 6 months. 

Read here about the benefits of breast milk and the side effects breastfeeding can have for mothers.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Many studies show that breastfeeding has advantages. For example publishes a comparative studythat the risk of infections, especially respiratory infections, can be reduced by 40 to 70 percent if the mother exclusively breastfeeds her baby for at least four months. Another scientific study shows that breast milk has a positive impact on the Development of a healthy intestinal flora may have.

A Long-term study from Great Britain examines whether the baby's diet can even affect intelligence. The researchers from the University of Oxford examined children who were breastfed and received the ready-made baby food over a longer period of time. Breastfed children performed better on tests, and these differences persisted into age 14.

Antibodies from the mother's immune system can be passed to the child after birth via breast milk. Breastfeeding mothers thus ensure that the infant's immune system can develop well. There is also the possibility that hormones, such as the so-called cuddle hormone oxytocin, and the close physical contact during breastfeeding ensure a good bond between mother and child. 

There are other benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies.

benefits for the mother

  • Breastfeeding and the hormones that come with it can create a strong emotional bond between the mother and her baby.
  • Oxytocin can reduce the release of stress hormones in both mother and child.
  • Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the brain. It can induce labor and lactation because oxytocin causes the uterus to contract.
  • Nursing labor can promote the involution of the uterus.
  • When the baby sucks at the breast, more prolactin might be released. This hormone can make the mother calmer.
  • Breastfeeding mothers may have a lower risk of type II diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, endometriosis, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
  • Ultimately, feeding the baby takes less time for the mother. If the child is hungry, the food is immediately available at the right temperature.

Note: Mothers often believe that breastfeeding is a reliable form of contraception. Breastfeeding can cause the release of the hormone prolactin, which on the one hand promotes milk production and on the other hand can block ovulation. However, it is possible for the prolactin level to drop as a result of supplementary feeding or a short break from breastfeeding. This would reduce the contraceptive protection again. Breastfeeding is therefore not recommended as a reliable contraceptive method. Anyone who does not immediately want to have children can seek advice from a doctor or gynecologist about contraceptive protection while breastfeeding.

benefits for the child

  • If the mother is breastfeeding, she could produce colostrum immediately after birth. This fluid contains proteins, minerals, vitamins, white blood cells and antibodies.
  • The infant can get the antibodies from the mother through breast milk. Thus, the immune system can develop well during breastfeeding.
  • It may be that breast milk is easier to digest and the protein content is conducive to the growth of the child.
  • A few days after birth, the composition of breast milk can change. Then the milk would also contain sugar and fat, so that breastfed babies get all the important nutrients.
  • How a meta study Researched, breastfed children die less often from sudden infant death syndrome.
  • With illness, the composition of breast milk can also change, and the baby is supplied with macrophages, antibodies and other immune-active substances that help fight infections.
  • The carbohydrates and fatty acids contained in milk can also provide protection against infection. In addition, lactoferrin allows the body to better absorb iron, which also increases protection against infections.
  • Breastfeeding can have a pain-relieving effect, although it is not clear whether this is due to breast milk or whether the calming effect of drinking and sucking in combination with hormones such as oxytocin has a positive effect on the perception of pain.
  • Another advantage of breast milk can be the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and obesity.
  • According to American studies, breastfed children are less likely to have learning problems and behavioral problems.
  • Furthermore, scientists assume that breastfeeding makes children more resistant to stress.

Woman breastfeeds baby in park

Disadvantages of breastfeeding for mothers

Breastfeeding can also have disadvantages, with breastfeeding side effects relating to the mother:

  • The milk rush can be associated with pain at first.
  • If the mother attaches her baby to the breast incorrectly, it can lead to a sore nipple, inflammation of the breast and engorgement.
  • It's possible that breastfeeding can cause problems with the mother's bowel movements. Many hormones are released at the beginning of the breastfeeding period, which means that some breastfeeding mothers suffer from constipation.
  • Sometimes breastfeeding causes circulatory problems. However, this is related to insufficient fluid intake. A breastfeeding woman should drink two to three liters a day.
  • The disadvantages of breastfeeding also relate to the consumption of nicotine and alcohol and the difficulty of returning to work.

Does long-term breastfeeding have disadvantages for the child?

The WHO, the German Society for Nutrition and the National Breastfeeding Commission recommend breastfeeding for at least four to six months. Anything longer than this is referred to as long-term breastfeeding.

There are many prejudices and assumptions about possible disadvantages, but so far there has been no scientific evidence that breastfeeding for a long time is harmful to the child or to health. It is probably a societal question whether long-term breastfeeding is viewed as a negative or a positive. In many indigenous peoples, children are only weaned from the age of three.

Pros and cons of convenience foods

Ready-made baby food can relieve the mother at work and in everyday life. Since breast milk contains antibodies from the mother that can be passed on to the baby, the protection against infection for unbreastfed children is often lower. Studies have shown that unbreastfed babies are more likely to develop otitis media, respiratory infections and other diseases compared to breastfed children. For example, breast milk can protect against bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. In addition, the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in newborns can be increased if they do not receive breast milk.

Of course, mother and baby can also form a strong bond when using baby food if the mother ensures that there is enough physical contact. Breastfeeding is no guarantee of a good bond. However, it can be promoted by the hormones contained in breast milk. It is also possible that physical contact and sucking on the breast have a relaxing effect on both mother and child.

It is often said that breastfeeding protects against allergies. This has not yet been clearly proven. However, breast milk can promote the development of a healthy intestinal flora. A disturbed intestinal flora can affect diseases such as asthma, allergies, obesity and others. The risk of allergies can be reduced if the child receives breast milk for more than six months.

  • "I've been taking the Lactaval breastfeeding tablets since I started breastfeeding and I'm extremely satisfied, the tablets stimulate my milk production and it's also a great help for my baby against colic and flatulence. 

    Can only recommend it!!!"

    • Mualla Y. - verified buyer

"I've been taking the Lactaval breastfeeding tablets since I started breastfeeding and I'm extremely satisfied, the tablets stimulate my milk production and it's also a great help for my baby against colic and flatulence. Can only recommend it!!!"

  • Mualla Y. - verified buyer