Benefits of Breastfeeding For Baby & Moms | Breast Milk Benefits
In this article, we will discuss all about breastfeeding: How breast milk is preferable to formulas and supplements? What are the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby and mom? How much a mom should feed breast milk? What are the benefits of breast milk? Let us start now!
What Is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a natural process to nourish a baby with breast milk after birth to a specific period until the baby is able to chew or digest hard foods. Sometimes, it is known as nursing. A breast has two feeding organs with a hole that provides milk to a baby. Breast milk contains ideal nutrition and supports the healthy growth of a baby.
Breastfeeding Before Artificial Formulas and Supplements/ Juices
In past eras, there was only one way to feed babies: that was the mother feeding or breastfeeding. All mammals feed their babies with natural milk because there is no alternative to this feed. When we dive deep into back eras, we come to know that when a mother was unable to feed her baby, few women in that society were asked to feed a baby. Though, sometimes for free as a good gesture, and sometimes this baby feed was paid. In the Medieval Ages, and up to the modern era, still in some places, mothers feed their babies with milk of goat that is also light and healthy for babies. Grownup babies still drink cows’ milk.
Why Artificial Formulas and Supplements/Juices are Popular These Days
With scientific advancements, laboratories became able to identify ingredients/elements/vitamins in each food and tried to make artificial foods that contain the same ingredients and vitamins that a baby needs. These products are easily available in the market all the time. Due to easy access and availability, people choose artificial products that are certified by laboratories. With the establishment of colonies, people moved from the countryside and villages to cities where they cannot get goat milk to feed their babies. Moreover, companies who make these products, advertise in this way that people become convinced to feed their babies artificial foods.
How Much Time a Mother Should Breastfeed Her Baby?
Most healthcare professionals recommend feeding a baby with breast milk for at least 6 months or longer. Breast milk contains a full nutrition pack that a baby needs during the first 6 months. A mother should start feeding her baby with breast milk soon after birth. Child nutritionists recommend starting breastfeeding as early as one hour after birth. Because first feed has enormous benefits. Just after the birth of a baby, breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum. It is high in protein, low in sugar, and loaded with beneficial compounds that are not replaceable with artificial formulas. There is no replacement in the world for the first milk of the mother. A mother should feed her baby until he/she starts digesting hard foods/organic foods/fruits.
The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old or longer until a mother can feed her baby. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. According to APP, breastfeeding should be continued even after solid foods are introduced, until at least age 1 year or until both mom and baby agree to call it quits. According to the Islamic religion, a mother should feed her baby at two years at least.
Can a Mother use Formula Instead of Breast-Milk?
Formulas are never the perfect replacement for breast milk. There are lot of benefits of breast milk and one should feed her baby with breast milk. However, in some cases, healthcare consultants advise formulas for a specific reason. These reasons may include:
- If a mother has no or less breast milk as in cesarean cases when hormones do not create milk.
- When a mother has a disease that can transfer into a child through the feed.
- If a mother is too weak in health.
- Sometimes, a child has a specific disease and the physician suggests something different in the shape of a formula.
- If mother milk lacks vitamin D, Vitamin D drops are usually recommended.
- A doctor can suggest any other reason.
Why Breastfeeding is Necessary?
Breastfeeding is the first and basic right of a baby that is born in a lap of a mother. There is no food in the world that can replace a mother’s feed. Breastfeeding has health benefits for both babies and mothers. Breastfeeding also helps protect babies and their mothers against multiple diseases.
Now we will discuss the benefits of breast milk for babies.
Benefits of Breast Milk for the Baby
If a mother is reluctant to feed her baby with breast milk, she may be in danger twice: firstly, her own health can go at risk; secondly, her child can be the victim of health diseases. However, it is a personal preference to feed a baby with breast milk or with artificial foods but universal facts about the benefits of breastfeeding are still there. Let us go through all the benefits of breast milk.
Breast Milk is an Ideal Nutrition for Babies
One of the main benefit of breast milk is that Breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies. Breast milk has the right amount of nutrients. It is easy to digest than any other food. As a baby grows, breast milk changes its nutrition to what a baby needs according to age. Breast milk after one week of birth had different nutrients than breast milk after six months. Breast milk is softer than formulas to digest and break. Breast milk includes fat, protein, sodium, calcium, and iron.
Breast Milk Contains Important Antibodies
Breast milk is loaded with antibodies. When a mother feeds her baby, all her antibodies move with her breast milk toward the baby which makes his immune system very strong. Colostrum (the first milk after birth: a thick and yellowish fluid) is full of antibodies. A formula does not provide antibodies or protection against early diseases for babies like colostrum.
Breastfeeding Protects Against Certain Diseases
Breast milk for infants is particularly beneficial. It reduces your baby’s risk for diseases and improves the immune system. Some of the diseases are below and you can save your child from these diseases if you feed from your breast.
- Babies, who receive breastfeeding, may have a lower risk of getting serious colds and ear or throat infections compared to those babies who do not receive breastfeeding.
- Breast milk also reduces the chances of gut infections.
- Breastfeeding protects against the middle ear, throat, sinus infections, and respiratory tract infections. Breast milk also protects against respiratory and gastrointestinal acute diseases.
- Breast milk also reduces the risk of Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of childhood leukemia. Allergic diseases. Breastfeeding can be helpful for a baby against atopic dermatitis, eczema, and asthma.
- Babies who are breastfed may remain safe against the risk of developing (type 1) diabetes and non-insulin-dependent diabetes (type 2).
Breast Milk Promotes Healthy Weight Gain
A baby receives quick weight gain when he receives breastfeed. Moreover, breastfeeding for a longer period (4-6 months) had a significant reduction in the chances of a baby developing overweight and obesity.
Breast Milk Improves a Child’s Smartness
Many kinds of research and studies have proven that a child who receives breast milk is smarter than those who are grown up with formulas. Because the nutrient content of formulas cannot perfectly match breast milk and breast milk makes a child more active and smart.
Breast Milk Contains Good Temperatures
Mothers worry about how much temperature of liquid formulas should be. Because of different weathers, a child need formulas boiled and cooled to a specific level. Sometimes, it gets too cool at some times it is a bit hot. It can cause severe risks to the health of the child. Breast milk is always at the right temperature and ready to drink at any time.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Moms
Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for babies but mothers receive equal health benefits by breastfeeding. A mother who breastfeeds her babies receives multiple health benefits. Some of the main benefits of breastfeeding for moms are below:
Breastfeeding Helps Uterus Involution and Reduces Blood Loss
During the last months of pregnancy, the uterus generally grows immensely and quickly. After delivery of the child, the uterus goes through a specific process known as involution. In this process, the uterus returns to its small size. Oxycontin is a hormone that increases during pregnancy to the birth of a baby. During birth, it reduces bleeding and pain. By breastfeeding, oxytocin increases and helps in the contraction of the uterus to its previous size. Many types of research have proven that mothers who breastfeed their babies generally have less blood loss after delivery and quick uterus involution.
Breastfeeding May Help You to Lose Weight
Majority of the women start gaining weight just after the birth of their baby. Some of them gain weight during pregnancy. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories, which can help them to lose the weight gained during pregnancy. A mother, who feeds her baby with breast milk, burns 500 extra calories per day compared to mothers who do not feed breast milk.
Breastfeed Reduces Depression
Mothers who feed their babies with breast milk also keep saving themselves from depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) generally develops among females shortly after childbirth. Breastfeeding produces naturally soothing hormones like Oxycontin and protactinium. These hormones promote stress reduction and positive feelings. A breastfeeding mother feels confident and remains content. Breastfeeding can support the wellness of the body, mind, and spirit of the whole family because no one has a duty to prepare formulas for the baby. A breastfeeding mother and her baby create a good bond of mutual harmony among them that leads to love and affection. This mutual harmony also leads to knowing about infants’ cues and babies learn to trust caregivers. This also helps to develop an infant’s early behavior.
Breastfeeding Reduces Disease Risk for the Mother
Breastfeeding seems to provide a mother with good protection against several diseases including cancer. The long time a mother feeds her baby, she receives more protection against the risks of breast diseases and ovarian cancer. Women who feed their babies with breastfeed have a lower risk for:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High blood fats
Prevention in Ovulation and Menstruation
A mother who is continuously feeding her baby with breast milk receives prevention in ovulation and menstruation. The delay of menstrual cycles may actually be nature’s way of ensuring there is some time between pregnancies. This change as an additional benefit for breastfeeding mothers.
General Benefits of Breastfeeding
Apart from all the health benefits, breastfeeding has many other advantages and benefits. To breastfeed a baby, mothers will not have to:
- Spend money on costly formula or powdered milk.
- Calculate how much-powdered milk a baby needs in a day.
- Generally, babies on breastfeed do not disturb their mothers
- Waste time cleaning and sterilizing nipples and milk bottles.
- Leave bed to prepare milk in the middle of the night.
- Making necessary arrangements for milk while on the go.
- No need to consult a pediatrician that how should warm/cool should be.
Tips for Breastfeeding Moms (ABCs of Breastfeeding)
Breastfeeding is not a much difficult task. However, if you are hesitating to feed or you or not aware of how to feed a baby, you can ask for tips from any trusted person.
Below are the tips to prepare oneself for breastfeeding. These tips are also known as the ABCs of breastfeeding.
- Get regular prenatal care and visit a gynecologist for opinions.
- Discuss your plan to breastfeed and ask for your diet that can improve your breastfeeding.
- Take a breastfeeding class before the birth of a baby.
- Meet a lactation consultant and ask her to teach you breastfeeding basics.
- Learn the positions to feed a baby.
- Ask a nutritionist for your diet plan during breastfeeding.
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