Breastfeeding is more than just food for your baby. According to a survey, 2 out of 3 babies are not exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and about 32 percent of women refuse to breastfeed the baby right from the beginning. Lack of awareness regarding the importance of breastfeeding is the major cause behind this. Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby but it has major advantages for the mother too. Read below to know in brief about the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies.

Advantages of breastfeeding:
For the mother:
(1) Health benefits: Breastfeeding mothers have less risk of having ovarian cancer, 
diabetes, and high blood pressure. The reason behind this is that breastfeeding removes cells that have damaged DNA which could result in cancer in the future. During the process of breastfeeding your sugar and bp levels are reduced thus preventing diabetes and hypertension. Women who breastfeed are also protected against having breast cancer.
(2) Helps in losing weight: You will burn around 300-500 calories per day when 
breastfeeding. Burning calories means you will lose fat cells in your body thus losing weight.
(3) Effects of oxytocin: The major hormone which is released during breastfeeding is oxytocin and it has various benefits such as avoiding postpartum hemorrhage (severe
bleeding) and contracting uterus and returning to its normal size. If the bleeding is less post-delivery there is a reduced chance for the mother to have anemia. It is also known as the happy hormone since it makes you have a surge of positive emotion and therefore avoids the risk of having postpartum depression.
(4) Urinary tract infection: Breast milk contains antibodies that not only protect the baby against infection but also protect the mother against infection, especially the urinary tract infection. (UTI)
(5) Prevents osteoporosis: Women who are breastfeeding absorb more calcium in the body thus preventing osteoporosis (a condition caused by loss of calcium in the bones). The longer you breastfeed more calcium gets absorbed in the body and it significantly reduces the risk of having osteoporosis even postmenopausal.
(6) Natural contraception: You are unlikely to ovulate and also to have periods for the first six months post-delivery if you exclusively breastfeed the baby. Therefore it acts as natural contraception and this is medically known as “Lactational Amenorrhea” and the absence of periods during exclusive breastfeeding is known as 'Lactational Amenorrhea'. But remember the failure rate of Lactational Amenorrhea is very high because you can still ovulate with the absence of periods.

For the baby:
(1) Strong immune system: The baby is protected against various infections such as 
pneumonia, whooping cough, ear infection, meningitis, gut infections like 
diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and various other diseases. The recovery rate of a  breastfed baby from a disease is faster than that of a baby which is not breastfed. Breastfeeding also protects the baby from allergies and asthma.
(2) Nutrition: Breast Milk is a great source of protein and helps with a baby’s growth. Formula milk doesn’t have sufficient protein than that of the breast milk. Breast milk also has low sugar compared to formula milk. Breast Milk has all vitamins except Vitamin D.
(3) Protection against various diseases: Breastfed babies have less risk of having SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) diabetes, childhood cancers, ulcers, asthma, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, heart diseases, and cavities in the future.
(4) Development: Breastfed babies have higher intelligence and are less likely to develop any behavioral problems or learning difficulties when they grow. Research has shown it is due to the nutrient content present in breast milk.
(5) Bonding with the mother - The babies who breastfeed feel closer to the mother due to skin-to-skin touch and feel more secure