7 Benefits of Breastfeeding for 2 Weeks

Any amount of time you spend breastfeeding can help bolster your baby's immune and gut health. And it has benefits for you, too.
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Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience, but it's not without challenges. While many parents end up chest or breastfeeding or pumping for several months or more, others only breastfeed for a few weeks because of breastfeeding difficulties, having to go back to work or simply feeling breastfeeding wasn't the best choice after all.


Here's the good news: There are advantages to breastfeeding for just a few weeks. Yes, even two weeks of breastfeeding has benefits. Remember, breastfeeding is all about what works for you and your baby, and everyone's breastfeeding journey is different.

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Let's take a closer look at the benefits of breastfeeding for a few weeks, a few months and longer.

1. It Provides Excellent Nutrition for Your Baby

Between the 12th and 16th weeks of pregnancy, your breasts start to produce a sticky, yellowish substance called colostrum, which will be the first milk your baby receives during the first few days of life, before your mature milk comes in, according to ‌StatPearls‌.

Colostrum has more protein and less fat and carbohydrates than your mature milk will have, according to ‌StatPearls‌. While colostrum is lower in volume than mature milk, it's just what your baby needs nutritionally, and it's easy for babies to digest.


2. Breastfeeding Supports Your Baby's Gut Health

Colostrum isn't just a great source of nutrition, it's also supportive for your baby's gut health. It's full of vitamins (particularly A, B12 and K, according to May 2018 research in ‌Nutrients‌) and a substance called called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), says Andrea Braden, MD, IBCLC, an ob-gyn, breastfeeding medicine specialist and CEO and co-founder of breastfeeding brand Lybbie.


Together, the vitamins and HMOs "teach the baby's gut how to populate with bacteria to fight infections," Dr. Braden says. "Giving the baby breastmilk early on is like giving a prebiotic."

3. It Bolsters Your Baby's Immune System

Colostrum also helps protect babies from icky germs circulating — germs they haven't yet been exposed to or vaccinated against in those early weeks of life.


"Colostrum has high concentrations of compounds like secretory IgA, lactoferrin and oligosaccharides that prime the infant's immune system to provide protection against a variety of illnesses," says Megan Oggero, APRN, IBCLC, a lactation consultant and family nurse practitioner at UTHealth Houston.


4. Breastfeeding Helps Restore Your Uterus to Pre-Pregnancy Size

During breastfeeding, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps your milk ducts contract so milk is released out of your breasts. But it also does a few other things, including cause your uterus to contract, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


Many parents notice uterine cramping in the early days of breastfeeding. This is a good thing, Dr. Braden says. "Oxytocin not only helps with breastfeeding, but it actually helps to contract the uterus to decrease hemorrhage after delivery," she says.

These contractions also help your uterus decrease in size, so it will return to its pre-pregnancy size more efficiently, per the Cleveland Clinic.


5. It Promotes Bonding

Breastfeeding isn't the only way to bond with your baby, but for many parents, it can help, Oggero says.

The hormone oxytocin is a big player when it comes to this bonding, she says, part of why it's often described as the "love hormone."


When oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, it creates feelings of calm and can decrease stress, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It can also boost feelings of love and affection between breastfeeding parents and their little ones.

6. Breastfeeding for 2 Weeks Establishes Your Milk Supply

If you're hoping to breastfeed long term, breastfeeding often in those early weeks will pay off down the road. "Early breastfeeding is really important for developing your milk supply," Dr. Braden says.

You'll want to breastfeed your baby frequently in those first few weeks of life, because this helps set up the supply and demand cycle of breastfeeding, she explains.


"The baby really sets the pace for what your body needs to do to feed [them] by sending signals to the parent," Dr. Braden says. "Every time your baby suckles — every time they take milk out of the breast — your body gets a signal to make more milk and replace that."

7. It Gives You Skin-to-Skin Time

Breastfeeding your baby in those early weeks means you'll be spending lots of hours in close contact, skin to skin, which has many benefits.

"Skin-to-skin [contact] and early breastfeeding help regulate the baby's heart rate, temperature and blood sugar," Dr. Braden says. It can also help babies transition from the safe, quiet world of the womb to the noisier, more chaotic new world they now find themselves in.

Of course, you don't have to breastfeed to get the benefits of skin-to-skin time. And you don't have to be the only one to do it. Partners, grandparents — even younger siblings — can spend skin-to-skin time with new babies.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding Beyond 2 Weeks

Breastfeeding for any amount of time is good for babies, but the perks continue as long as you nurse your baby.

Most major health organizations recommend breastfeeding exclusively for about six months and continuing for a year or more, even once you introduce solid foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding "as long as mutually desired" by a breastfeeding parent and their child, and that breastfeeding for two years — or even more — is healthy.

Breastmilk can provide babies with all the nutrients they need for their first few months of life and can continue to provide a portion of their nutrition through the second year of life, per the World Health Organization.


Should you choose to continue on after the first few weeks of breastfeeding, your baby will also get immune system benefits, Oggero says. "When parents are exposed to viruses and bacteria, they begin to produce antibodies, and these antibodies are passed to the infant through the breast milk," she explains. "They reduce the risk of infection in the infant and lessen the severity of illness if it occurs."

The longer you opt to exclusively breastfeed, the lower your baby's chance of developing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Continuing to breastfeed past the first few weeks offers benefits for the breastfeeding parent, too. "For parents, longer durations of breastfeeding provide progressively greater reductions in the risks of developing breast and ovarian cancers and type 2 diabetes," Oggero says, as well as heart disease, according to a February 2023 article in ‌Cancer Medicine‌.

Tips for Breastfeeding Success

Everyone has different breastfeeding goals. Even if your goal is to breastfeed for several months or longer, you might find it challenging. That's normal and you are far from alone; it's important to be kind to yourself while breastfeeding.

Nicole Peluso, IBCLC, lactation consultant and manager of lactation services and education at medical device company Aeroflow Healthcare, offered her top tips to increase the chances of breastfeeding success:

  • Try to learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before your baby arrives from your doctor and/or credible websites and books.
  • Consider taking a breastfeeding class or going to a breastfeeding support group when you are pregnant.
  • Try to get a few names of lactation specialists you can call on after your baby is born.
  • Take advantage of the "gold hour" after birth, and allow the natural process of bonding to unfold with your baby, with minimal interference from others if possible.
  • Get help with latching right away; if there are any issues, this will ensure an adequate milk removal for your baby and breast stimulation/establishment of your milk supply.
  • Ask for help before breastfeeding hurts, and before your nipples bleed or crack.
  • Consider joining a breastfeeding-focused support group to meet other parents who are on the same journey as you.

Keep in mind, too, that breastfeeding isn't going to always look like direct breastfeeding, with your baby suckling at the breast. Breastfeeding has benefits even if you exclusively pump your milk, and even if you feed your baby with a combination of formula and breastmilk. When it comes to breastfeeding, you get to define your own success.



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