Nutrition during your baby’s first 2 years is vital for physical and mental development. Breast milk contains components that are essential for your baby’s nourishment and long-term health. And while the decision to breastfeed your baby or not is yours to make, we are here to help you make an informed one.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for approximately 6 months after birth and support continued breastfeeding, along with appropriate complementary foods, introduced at about 6 months, as long as mutually desired by the mother and child for 2 years or beyond
So, before you make up your mind, let us go through the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your newborn.
BREASTFEEDING BENEFITS FOR THE BABY
- Breast milk has all the nutrition your baby needs
Breast milk has all the nutrients necessary to promote your baby’s growth. Colostrum, which is the milk produced in the first few days after birth, is highly rich in vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, growth hormones, and digestive enzymes.
Formula milk comes nowhere near breast milk in regard to its rich composition, as formula milk does not contain growth factors, disease-fighting proteins, or digestive enzymes and may cause trouble to your baby’s digestive tract.
- Breast milk Protects your baby from infections
Your body produces disease-fighting proteins, called antibodies, upon exposure to bacteria and viruses. These antibodies travel into breast milk to protect your baby from infections. Formula milk has no antibodies in it so it doesn’t offer added protection to your baby.
- Breastfeeding protects your baby from illnesses in the long term
Infants who are not breastfed have a higher risk of certain future illnesses compared to those who are breastfed optimally.
breastfed children are less likely to suffer from obesity, type I and type II diabetes, asthma, childhood leukemia, intestinal diseases, and skin diseases.
- Breastfeeding is vital for early brain development
Breast milk provides the fuel that drives early brain growth, development, and nourishment. Studies show better cognitive abilities in children who were exclusively breastfed for the first 3 months or longer.
- Infant Mortality & Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Studies show that the risk of infant death is reduced significantly in babies who were breastfed within the first hour of birth. The risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is also reduced in babies who receive breastmilk for 6 months or longer.
BREASTFEEDING BENEFITS FOR THE MOM
Breastfeeding has many positive effects on the mother too!
Short Term Benefits
- Breastfeeding may suppress ovulation
Breastfeeding has the natural effect of suppressing ovulation, hence, acting as a natural birth control method for up to 6 months. No ovulation means you won’t have your period and you can’t get pregnant. However, extra measures to prevent conception might be needed as some women can get pregnant even if they are breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding may help you lose weight after pregnancy
Mothers who breastfeed burn more calories than mothers who don’t. They’re also more conscious about what they eat. Studies show that mothers who breastfeed their babies exclusively for 3 months or longer are more likely to lose weight after giving birth.
- Breastfeeding helps restore uterus size after pregnancy
Breastfeeding causes the release of a hormone called “Oxytocin” which promotes uterine contraction after birth. In other words, breastfeeding helps your uterus regain its original size and shape.
- Breastfeeding may reduce your post-partum depression
Postpartum depression develops soon after giving birth. Recent studies suggest that breastfeeding might protect from postpartum depression, reduces its symptoms, and promotes faster recovery.
Long Term Benefits
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular events
Breastfeeding protects mothers from many future illnesses, including type II diabetes and hypertension. Diabetes and hypertension are both major risk factors for heart disease.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cancers
Women who breastfeed are less likely to have certain types of cancer, such as:
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Endometrial Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer
- Emotional bonding
Breastfeeding releases the hormone “Oxytocin” which promotes the emotional bond between the mom and baby. This bond is vital for your baby’s well-being and growth.
- Breastfeeding saves time and money
Breastfeeding barely costs anything compared to bottle milk. Breastfeeding saves you from:
- Spending money on formula milk, feeders, and artificial teats.
- Frequent visits to the hospital, as your baby will be relatively protected from infections and illnesses.
- Buying special sterilizers and warmers for feeders and teats.
- Preparation of milk in the middle of the night.
Did you know?
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