Breastfeeding is a perfectly natural process but deciding whether you should go ahead with it is subjective. You may not want to breastfeed for any reason but you must not come to a conclusion considering one part of the spectrum. There are many, many incredible ways breastfeeding can help both you and your child.
One of the most primary reasons that a mother should opt for breastfeeding is that it’s 100% natural. Milk that’s being produced inside your body, neither being processed by any kind of factory nor having any additives, and yet it is enough for all the nutrition your little pie needs. Besides, it is most readily digested by the baby’s body (unless the child is intolerant to milk or lacks some digestive enzyme). Needless to say, it’s priceless – literally.
Analytically speaking, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you breastfeed your baby for at least 6 months and continue with solid foods until the baby’s at least 1 year of age or until you’re both ready to move on without it. The WHO, likewise, vouch for breastfeeding until your younger one is at least 2 years old, starting with as early as an hour post the delivery.
Breastfeeding Benefits both the Mother and the Child, here’s how:
Breastfeeding benefits for the baby
1. Breast milk serves as a complete meal for a baby by providing all the necessary nutrients.
Breast milk is so apt for your baby that its composition changes to fit the baby’s changing needs as they grow older. It is therefore that doctors recommend that only breast milk should suffice for your little one for the first six months of their life.
The initial production of breast milk, thick and yellow, is called the colostrum and is incredibly high in nutrients and antibodies, providing the baby with instantly acquired immunity, which can be rarely provided by formula milk. So much so, it is ideal to be considered a must for infants.
However, though, your milk may not be enough to provide your baby with enough vitamin D, depending on your vitamin intake. You may want to sunbathe your baby in the early morning hours to avoid harmful, direct sunlight. Only about 30 minutes of sun per week should be enough.
2. Breast milk provides antibodies and passive immunity.
As we discussed in the previous point, breast milk contains antibodies and therefore provides the baby momentary as well as long-lasting passive immunity. This immunity is especially important for the early months of your child as their body is still developing the immune system.
Formula milk may contain all that you want but it still doesn’t have antibodies.
Likely it’s therefore that children who weren’t breastfed are at higher risk of developing infections.
3. Exclusive breastfeeding may mean low vulnerability to various diseases for the child.
Exclusive breastfeeding has its own set of benefits, which include reducing your newborn’s vulnerability to many infections, such as respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections, cold flu and infections, and gastrointestinal tract infections. Further, it can also save your child from diseases and issues such as intestinal tissue damage, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), allergies and allergy diseases like asthma and eczema, bowel syndromes, diabetes, and childhood leukemia,
4. Breast milk may reduce the likelihood of unhealthy weight gain.
Breast milk may do this in more than just one way.
- Breastfed babies are found to have higher numbers of beneficial gut bacteria, which usually also affect fat storage in the body.
- Moreover, their bodies also tend to produce more leptin, which is a hormone involved in regulating appetite and fat storage.
- Breast milk also allows babies to self-regulate their milk intake, unlike formula milk. So they only feed and eat until they satisfy their hunger, therefore developing healthy eating habits.
5. Breastfeeding may promote healthy brain development in your child.
When you’re feeding your baby, everything from your physical proximity to your eye contact gets the child. This, along with the nutritional benefits of breast milk, may work in a manner so as to promote brain development. Some studies have shown that breastfed children indeed have higher intelligence scores than others. Additionally, they are also less likely to develop behavioral problems when they grow up.
Breastfeeding benefits for you, the MOM
1. Breastfeeding has been found to help lose post-partum weight in mothers.
Have you heard of this from your mom or grandmother? Well, how better could it get! Although post-partum weight loss varies by body type, some women seem to lose weight while breastfeeding.
2. Breastfeeding helps bring down the size of your uterus.
Harboring your growing baby for a long period of 9 months expands your uterus and you look big. But breastfeeding miraculously brings us a lot of hope by stimulating the production and release of oxytocin, which is a hormone that helps the uterus go back to its original size.
3. Breastfeeding reduces an expecting mother’s vulnerability to postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a common form of depression that affects new mothers after one of the most remarkable moments of their lives. Imagine, being on top of the world one day and not wanting to hold your baby the next. Yep, it’s that bad and that crappy.
The good news, again, is that breastfeeding and postpartum mood and behavior seem to be related. Women who breastfeed appear less likely to have postpartum depression. However, the converse also seems to be true, the mothers who experience postpartum depression shortly after delivery are more prone to have breastfeeding troubles.
4. Breastfeeding may protect you against various diseases as well.
We have already discussed how breast milk may help your child to stay away from a number of diseases. Simultaneously, breastfeeding is also associated with a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers in breastfeeding mothers.
Plus, it may also reduce your risk for developing a hypertension, arthritis, cardiovascular disorders, cholesterol, and Type II diabetes.
10. Breastfeeding pauses menstruation.
Do you need a better reason than this? By god’s grace, breastfeeding helps you to space two pregnancies. It is very, very wise to have some time between you birth another baby and breastfeeding helps by preventing menstruation.
Lastly, why not!
You produce the milk, why not use it?
Maybe it is the least of your concerns, but breast milk is being produced by your body. There may not be anything more pure than this potion. You don’t need to worry about sterilizing milk bottles or buying formulas. It’s more convenient and given the number of benefits breast milk offers, it makes it worth it.
Breastfeeding undoubtedly has many benefits. However, it remains a mother’s choice whether she wants to do it or not. You must consider all the aspects and then do it instead of being at it under societal pressure.