The benefits of breast milk for the baby and the mother

The breastmilk it is, almost in all likelihood, one of the best foods we could consume throughout our entire lives. Despite all the wonderful things we have achieved, the truth is that we have not been able to create a better food than breast milk for babies, nor so healthy. And although today it is possible to find a wide variety of formulas in the market, the truth is that none covers the needs of the baby as well as breast milk does.

And not only considering its incredible and complete nutritional composition, but because it creates a unique affective bond that is established between the baby and the mother, constituting itself as a special and unique experience.

This is confirmed and defended by most associations and health organizations. For example, the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEPED), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the Association of Nurses for Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatals, or the International Confederation of Midwives (CIM), recommend exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of 6 months.

How is breast milk produced?

When a woman becomes pregnant, especially with the development of the placenta, a series of hormonal changes that cause breast growth and an increase in both the ducts and the alveoli, while both the nipples and the areolas become darker. It promotes the release of progesterone and estrogen, which stimulate the biological system that makes breastfeeding possible. In this way, when the baby is born, the glandular tissues have replaced most of the fat cells.

Between these fat cells and the glandular tissue itself we find the mammary ducts, which during pregnancy multiply both in number and size. In turn, these ducts are divided and separated into smaller channels known as ducts. At the end of each conductillo we find a cluster of small sacs called alveoli that form a lobule, and that together form a lobe. Did you know that each breast contains between 15 to 20 lobes? Each of them has a mammary duct.

It is precisely inside the alveoli where breast milk is produced, which are surrounded by tiny muscles that squeeze the glands and push the milk into the conduits.

Properties of breast milk for the baby

There's no doubt breast milk is the best food that the baby can receive in its first months of life, because it provides the essential nutrients and protective substances that help in its correct and optimal development. In addition, it stands out for being a food that constantly changes adapting to the needs of the baby in every moment. It treats, as we will see next, of a food extremely beneficial so much for the newborn as for the baby:

  • Strengthens the baby's immune system: when the child is born his immune system is not yet fully developed. Breast milk helps fight infections and strengthen your immune system by containing substances that protect the intestines and help good bacteria grow, not allowing the absorption of iron from invading cells. In fact, babies fed with breast milk are not only more protected from diseases such as bronchiolitis, colds, pneumonia, otitis or diarrhea, but also from diseases such as allergy, obesity, asthma or diabetes.
  • It is easily digestible: breast milk is tremendously rich in proteins smaller than those found in formula milk, hence it is a food easily digested. Further, Vitamins and minerals are more easily absorbed.
  • Lower incidence of colicAlthough the exact causes for which a baby suffers from colic are unknown, it is known that those babies who are exclusively breastfeeding have a lower incidence.
  • Ideal for the proper development of the baby's brain: breast milk is very rich in fats and sugars, so it is a useful food that helps the formation of the protection surrounding the electrical connections of the baby's brain. Also, they increase their intelligence.

Properties of breast milk for mom

The Breastfeeding it also brings incredible benefits for mom. In fact, many studies have been able to confirm the advantages that breastfeeding brings to the mother both in the short and long term:

  • Improves recovery after childbirth: Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, a hormone that causes the uterus to contract, helping to remove the placenta at one time and stop the flow of blood. In addition, it presents a lower risk of postpartum depression.
  • Weightloss: the mother loses the weight gained during pregnancy more quickly, since the body uses the fat accumulated during pregnancy to make milk.
  • Amenorrhea and lower risk of anemia: the amenorrhea characteristic of breastfeeding consists of the absence of the menstrual cycle while the baby is breastfed with breast milk. When there is no menstruation, the appearance of anemia is prevented, much smaller amounts are lost in favor of the baby.
  • Link with the baby: breastfeeding favors the creation of an even more intimate and special bond with the baby. In addition, the release of stress-reducing hormones provide a soothing and very pleasant sensation of calmness, acting as an excellent natural tranquilizer. This is why mothers who breastfeed their babies after childbirth have a lower risk of depression.

Find out more in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Breastfeeding Committee of the AEPED.


  • Olivia Ballard, Ardythe L. Morrow. Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013 Feb; 60 (1): 49-74. doi: 10.1016 / j.pcl.2012.10.002. Available at: //
  • Nicole Theresa Cacho, Robert M. Lawrence. Innate Immunity and Breast Milk. Front Immunol. 2017; 8: 584. doi: 10.3389 / fimmu.2017.00584. Available at: //
  • David A Fields, Ellen W. Demerath. Relationship of insulin, glucose, leptin, IL-6 and TNF-α in human breast-milk with infant growth and body composition. Pediatr Obes. doi: 10.1111 / j.2047-6310.2012.00059.x. Available at: //

Images | ISTOCKPHOTO / THINKSTOCK This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesFeeding the baby

Benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby | Kaiser Permanente (March 2023)