Advantages of Breast Feeding – Top 12 Benefits
Breast milk contains many nutrients.
The nutrients in the breast milk change over time automatically to provide what the baby needs. It has antibodies that help protect your baby from infections. If the baby is born pre-term, breast milk will have a different composition, specifically suited for a premature infant. Breast milk can make a difference in life and death for premature babies.
The first milk which the mother produces, called colostrum, is the best food for a newborn.
This yellowish pre-milk substance carries more antibodies and is rich in protein and zinc. It also acts as a laxative to purge the newborn’s bowels from waste accumulated in the uterus.
Breast milk is a great immune booster even after the first few days. Feeding mother delivers millions of living white blood cells to babies to help fight off diseases. Commercial formulas have tried to reproduce these ingredients for ages and are coming quite close, though the exact combination cannot be duplicated. Breastfed babies may be less likely to have urinary and respiratory tract infections, skin problems, tooth decay, diarrhea, asthma, diabetes, obesity, childhood (such as leukemia), and anemia.
Even more impressive, if a baby contracts an illness that the mom has not been exposed to previously, he will transfer this organism through his saliva to the breast, where antibodies are manufactured on-site and then sent back to the baby via the milk to help him cope
Fats in breast milk are self-digesting
Milk contains the enzyme lipase, which breaks down the fat. Fat is the main source of calories for babies. Babies need lots of calories for growth. The calorific value of breast milk is about 70 per 100 ml, which has met the infant’s requirements. Furthermore, fat in human milk has large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain development.
Protein in breast milk is mostly whey, which is easier to digest than casein found in cow’s milk.
Talking about digestion, a baby’s delicate digestive system is still immature. So, the easier the milk can be broken down, the more minerals and nutrients will be absorbed. With better digestion and a natural laxative effect, the baby suffers less from constipation.
Breastfed babies tend to follow their appetite demands and reduce the chance of overeating and becoming overweight. I know some babies do not like formula milk, and the parents must keep changing brands. However, I have never known any baby who does not like breast milk.
Babies accept the taste naturally.
Baby develops in the mother’s body, and thus the chemical constitution of the breast suits the baby more than formula milk.
It is much more convenient. Imagine every time you bring the baby out, you need to prepare a bottle, formula, and warm water as well as cold water. On the other hand, Mother’s milk is easily available, uncontaminated, and comes in just a nice temperature for the baby’s needs. You do not have to sterilize the bottles, wash the bottle nipples, boil water and warm the leftover milk because breast milk comes in a “natural container” with the right temperature.
Formula-fed babies tend to have poor jaw alignment and are more likely to need orthodontic work as they age. In contrast, breastfed babies have better facial muscles and palate shape development.
Breast milk is much cheaper. You do not have to spend on buying bottles and formula. However, bear in mind that you may still need to invest in a nursing bra, nursing pads, nursing cover, and probably a breast pump if you plan to express milk. My wife bought an electronic Medela Freestyle double breast pump.
For mothers, breastfeeding creates a surge of hormones in the mother’s body. It helps shrink the uterus. It also allows you to lose pregnancy weight because your body burns calories to produce breast milk. If breastfeeding is as high as six times a day, one can burn at least 500 calories.
Another important benefit is the valuable mother-baby bond. Eye contact, skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and talking time create a wonderful moment between mother and baby.
When a mother breastfeeds a baby, the body produces a milk-making hormone, which seems to produce exceptional calmness in mothers. Breastfeeding mothers have less stress because their babies are sick less.
Mothers who breastfeed may be less likely to have type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, depression after pregnancy, and osteoporosis.
Furthermore, breastfeeding slows the fertility process. It will help you space out your next baby. Having said that, breastfeeding does not guarantee you will not get pregnant, just that it reduces the chance.
Things to Be Aware of while Breastfeeding
I believe that you probably have stopped smoking or drinking coffee, tea, and alcohol throughout the pregnancy. If you breastfeed your baby, you should continue with these restrictions.
Some mothers are comfortable breastfeeding in public, whereas some are embarrassed to “dine out” and prefer to do it at home. You must plan an outside trip to ensure your baby is fed. Otherwise, get nursing cover.
Since breast milk is easier to digest for the baby, it is expected that the baby will want to eat more frequently (once every 2 to 3 hours) than if they were bottle-fed. In turn, more diluted milk means more urine and leads to more diapers. Therefore, breastfeeding can be physically demanding for the mother.
Some babies suck their nipples with great force, causing sore breasts and much discomfort for the mother.
For mothers who return to work, you will need a breast pump to collect the milk. It is difficult for a breastfeeding mother to leave her baby for more than a couple of hours because no one else can feed the baby unless she has left expressed milk.
Some fathers may feel “left out” of baby care since the mother is the only one who can do the nursing. However, he can be involved in helping with different aspects of the baby’s care, giving him a valuable feeling of importance and allowing the mother a chance to rest.
Usually, pediatricians recommend mothers breastfeed babies exclusively for the first six months and then breastfeed with complementary foods for the next 12 months. The formula should always come in second place as best for your baby.
I am Ankit Sharma Nutrition Consultant. My approach is holistic and customized to enable you to achieve true wellness – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am from India but have clients across the globe. I can work with you to say goodbye to counting calories and short-term solutions. You will achieve long-term sustainable change in the way that they are eating, moving, living, and believing.