Congratulations on the little baby and for your decision to breastfeed!
It is true that breast milk is one of the best sources of nutrition for your infant and its benefit cannot be replaced by any other food. The pros of breastfeeding can outweigh the cons!
Experts believe that breastfeeding is the best gift you can give to your child for better health and development. There are some substances that are found only in mother’s milk and those cannot be obtained from any other food source. These are very important for your baby’s health and play a vital role in immunity build up.
In order to breastfeed your baby, you have to make several lifestyle changes and follow a proper schedule of feeding.
3 Advantages Of Breastfeeding:
Nowadays, many mothers are opting for breastfeeding due to its various benefits for their babies as well for themselves. What’s good for your baby is good for you too and when you follow nature’s course for feeding, you benefit your body too. For your ease we have divided the advantages of breast feeding in three major segments, namely:
- Breastfeed Benefits To Your Baby In Early Life:
- Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Your Baby in Later Life:
- Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mother:
1. Breastfeed Benefits To Your Baby In Early Life:
Here are the many benefits that breastfeeding provides to your baby in early life:
- Breast milk gives ideal nutrition to your baby as it contains right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins.
- Your breast milk production also changes to meet your growing baby’s requirement of food.
- It is easier for your baby to digest when compared with the formula milk.
[ Read: Spicy Food While Breastfeeding ]
2. Early Protection:
- Breast milk contains vital antibodies which are rarely found anywhere.
- These antibodies help prevent several diseases and also help ward off development of many allergies.
- After birth, production of first milk called ‘Colostrum’ helps provide your baby early protection.
- It prevents growth of destructive bacteria as it coats the digestive system of your baby.
- It is also seen that breast-fed babies are more resistant to infections and diseases early in life compared to formula-fed babies.
- It helps strengthen the immune system of your baby.
[ Read: Flu And Breastfeeding ]
3. Reduced Diarrhea:
- Babies who are breast-fed have three times less issues of diarrhea than those who are formula-fed.
- There are more chances of infections when your baby consumes milk from bottle because sometimes the bottle might not be cleaned properly.
- On the contrary, breast milk is absolutely safe and there are no chances of infections.
4. Less Ear infections:
- There are increased chances of ear-infections in babies who take formula and they may also encounter recurrent ear-infections.
- This infection can cause your baby to undergo multiple courses of antibiotics.
- It also reduces your baby’s immunity.
5. Reduced Risk of SIDS:
- Researchers have revealed that there are less chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies who are breast-fed.
- If you breast feed your baby, there would be less problems of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, thus lowering the risk of SIDS.
6. Reduced Respiratory Illnesses:
- There are less cases of respiratory problems in a baby who is breast-fed, while it is more commonly found in those who are on a formula feed.
- There are three times greater chances of a baby on formula being hospitalized due to acute respiratory problems than a baby who is on breast feed.
[ Read: Breastfeeding Vs Formula Feeding ]
7. Best Development Of Brain:
- It is also established through studies that babies who are breast-fed have good IQ.
- Such babies may be able to solve various puzzles and problems very early in life.
8. Bonding With Mother:
- Breastfeeding enhances closeness and comfort.
- It helps strengthen the bonding between your baby and you.
- Your baby feels safe in your arms and knows that you are around.
[ Read: Breastfeeding Diet ]
2. Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Your Baby In Later Life:
Here are the many benefits that breastfeeding provides to your baby in later life:
9. Reduced Dental Problems:
- Kids who are breast-fed develop less dental issues when they grow old.
- They have less dental cavities throughout their lives.
10. Reduced Risk Of Childhood Cancer:
- Studies show that babies who are breast-fed have reduced risk of childhood cancer which may happen less than 15 years of age.
- Babies who are bottle-fed have eight times higher risk of such cancers than those who are breast-fed for the first year of their life.
11. Reduced Diabetes Problems:
- There are 35% less chances of babies developing childhood insulin-dependent diabetes as compared to those who are bottle-fed.
- There are substances found in your feed which is not found anywhere in nature and that helps reduce this risk in your baby.
12. Reduced Heart Diseases:
- There are less cases of developing higher blood pressure in babies who consume their mother’s feed.
- If you breast feed your baby during the first six months, you will reduce chances of heart diseases too which may happen later in life.
13. Enhanced Cognitive Skills:
- Babies who are breast-fed develop fewer behavioral, psychological and learning problems when they grow older.
- Their cognitive skills are also found to be increased compared to those who are formula-fed.
14. Reduced Obesity:
- Babies who take mother’s feed have reduced risk of obesity in later life.
- This risk can be increased by 20 to 30 percent, if you feed formula your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that it would be best if you breastfeed for the first year of your baby’s life. Your baby should be well nourished by breast milk at least for the first six months. After six months, slow introduction of iron rich foods would be complementary along with breastfeed till the completion of first year.
When your baby is breast-fed without any supplements during the first six months, it reduces the risk of food contamination due to adulterated water or malnutrition caused due to over-diluted milk formula. Hence, it is advised by doctors to avoid any kind of liquids such as water, sweetened water, juices, honey or formula, unless there is any medical emergency. Moreover, your feed is rich enough to sustain your baby’s first six months and should follow according to his or her diet throughout the second half of first year of life.
[ Read: Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding ]
3. Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mother:
Breastfeeding not only helps your baby to grow into a better child, but it also helps you in various ways:
15. Emotional Satisfaction:
Many women get a feel of satisfaction and delight from the physical and emotional communion while nursing their babies.
Prolactin: A hormone which is produced in the body augments these feelings and produces a nurturing sensation allowing you to focus on your baby.
Oxytocin: Another important hormone which is produced during feeding helps promote an intense feeling of love and attachment with your baby.
16. Reduces Risk Of Breast Cancers:
There are studies which show that women who feed their babies encounter reduced rates of breast cancer later in their life.
Breastfeeding mothers can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 25%. The reduced risk comes in proportion to total duration of breastfeeding during a woman’s life.
This implies the more number of months or a year a mother feeds, the reduced the risk of breast cancer.
17. Reduces Osteoporosis:
- Breastfeeding helps prevent weak bones later in life and this risk is four times higher in non-breastfeeding women.
- Non-breastfeeding women will also develop risk of hip bone fractures in their post-menopausal period.
18. Reduced Risk Of Ovarian Cancer:
- Breastfeeding mothers have low risk of ovarian cancer.
- The reason is that during lactation, there are low levels of estrogen.
- The reduced level of estrogen provides less stimulation to the lining of uterus and breast tissues too, thus reduces the chances of these tissues becoming cancerous.
19. Reduces Post-Partum Issues:
- Breastfeeding women recover more quickly and easily from the childbirth.
- Hormones, like oxytocin,helps uterus to return to its normal state more quickly and also reduces post-partum bleeding.
- Feeding your baby also helps in delaying the menstrual cycle, ultimately helps extend the period between pregnancies.
- It helps in gradual weight-loss which was gained during pregnancy.
- Breastfeed is just simple to offer your baby at night and at times when bottle feed is not possible to prepare.
- Mother’s milk is always safe, fresh and at perfect temperature, thus, feeding anytime is hassle-free as there is no need to heat it, or boil or sterilize the bottles.
- It is also easy to take your baby on an outing or on longer trips if you are breastfeeding without worrying to carry a bag full of feeding equipment.
21. Easy On Budget:
- There are several economic benefits of breastfeeding your baby.
- It costs nothing and also prevents medical bills later as it assists your baby in preventing infections and diseases.
- You will just need an extra 400 to 500 calories per day to produce sufficient milk for your baby.
- If you buy formula, it will cost you depending upon the brand you buy to feed your baby.
22. Easy For Working Women:
- If you are a feeding mother and planning to go to work, it is still possible for your baby to receive all the breastfeeding benefits.
- You can express milk with a breast pump or simply by hands and handover to your caretaker.
- If you have put your baby in a daycare near your office, you can feed your baby during breaks.
[ Read: Breastfeeding And Working ]
23. Environment Friendly:
- Breastfeed is just good for the environment as you do not need to throw empty cans and there is absolutely no need of bottle washing.
- Human milk is produced and delivered directly to the consumer – your baby. Thus, it is pollution less and hassle-free.
There are studies which reveal that apart from above discussed benefits, breastfeeding mothers also have reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, type-2 diabetes and several cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.
Thus, feeding your baby is full of benefits and keeping aside these benefits, many mothers feed their babies to satisfy their feeling of motherhood. Some mothers will feed until their babies turn two years or two and a half years old. It is also found in studies that breastfeed is always good for a growing baby, so there is no harm in extended feeding. The longer you feed your baby, the greater benefits your baby will get.
4 Disadvantages Of Breastfeeding:
There are no such disadvantages of breastfeeding, but of course, it can be stressful for a few early days after birth:
1. Early Learning To Feed:
Your baby does not know how to latch on a breast and being a new mother, you may not know how to feed. It takes few days of practice and then all becomes fine.
- You may also find it too difficult as the feed does not come out in sufficient quantities, but it will come out as your baby learns to latch on it properly and suck it.
- The more your baby sucks, the more milk will start coming out.
- Take proper care of your diet during feeding and let your baby enjoy the goodness of milk which will be the best thing for your daring in life.
[ Read: How To Latch On A Breast ]
2. Sore Nipples:
In early days of breastfeeding when both you and baby are striving, there can be issues of sore nipples as your baby will not latch properly.
- When your infant starts sucking properly, sore nipples problem will not be seen anymore. This problem can be tackled by exposing the nipples to air.
- You can also use hair dryer on a low setting.
- Alcohol, soap, benzoin or wet towel should not be used to clean the nipples.
- Clean it with water only and never use petroleum based cosmetic products to treat it.
- You can get relief from cracked nipples by applying non-medicated lanolin.
3. Clogged Milk Ducts:
Sometimes in early days of feeding, there can be formation of tender lumps in the breast which can be painful too.
- This can happen because milk ducts get clogged with dried milk.
- To get relief from clogged ducts, you have to increase the feeding sessions and offer the affected breast first to your baby.
- You have to empty your breasts. You can also express milk by hands or breast pump.
- If the problem still persists, you can apply moist heat packs on the affected area to increase the blood flow.
- Massaging the affected part or a warm shower can also help.
4. Feeding In Public:
You may be too hesitant to feed in public and thus, feel uneasy. You can find feeding rooms in malls and several other places where you can breastfeed your hungry baby without any disturbance.
Sure breastfeeding is a lot of exercise, but with its multiple advantages for both you and your baby; don’t let it discourage you from giving baby the best beginning in life!
[ Read: Breastfeeding In Public ]
Wish you have more happy feeding sessions with your baby!
Do share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment section below:
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