It is no secret that breast milk is nature’s perfect food for babies. It is the source of nourishment for your little ones, exquisitely formulated to meet the optimal nutritional needs. With the right amount of nutrients, breast milk can be easily digested and does not harm your baby’s tummy.
Breastfeeding has a lot of significance, then just being the act of feeding your baby. Besides the fact that it has an incredible number of health benefits for the mother as well as the infant, breastfeeding can save a lot of your money on buying formulas. On the other hand, breastfeeding is an excellent way to help society as a whole to lessen environmental waste and reduce healthcare cost.
Hence, whether you breastfeed for four months, nine months, or a year, you are giving your precious child a priceless gift that can grow them into a healthy individual and carry over the years to come.
But before diving deeper into the topic, it is important that you get a quick insight into what breastfeeding is all about. This will help you get a clearer picture of the entire concept and comprehend the benefits that you will get from it!
What is breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding, also called nursing, is the process when a mother feeds her baby with breast milk directly from her breast. Experts recommend that even after the introduction of other foods, mothers should continue breastfeeding the baby for at least another year as it has numerous health benefits.
How often a mother prefers breastfeeding her child depends on whether the baby chooses small frequent meals or longer feedings. However, this may change over the duration of the baby’s growth. When it comes to newborns, mothers need to feed every two to three hours, whereas for infants of around two months, feeding needs to be done three to four hours in common.
But the primary thing that you need to consider is that your situation is unique, and the decision of breastfeeding depends upon your baby’s needs and your choice.
Many women do not feel comfortable breastfeeding the child, especially because of their outfits. Hence, it is recommended to buy breastfeeding dresses for the comfort of the mother and for meeting the nutritional requirements of the infant.
Benefits of breastfeeding for babies
Since your breast milk is formulated for your little one’s tummy, it is the best thing that you need to feed your infant. Another important thing that needs to be considered is that breast milk goes down easier than other formulas and can be easily digested by babies. This implies that if you feed breast milk to your baby, there are fewer chances that they would suffer from constipation, diarrhea, or any other discomfort. Also, to get the best out of it, you can start it instantly after your child’s birth.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), mothers should breastfeed their infants for six months and continue it after the introduction of solid food, at least for one year. The duration can last longer in case the mother, as well as the baby, agrees to it.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers to breastfeed their babies until two years as the advantages continue that long.
Below we have made a list of some of the advantages that your baby can get from breastfeeding. It is important to consider because these points are extremely crucial for the growth of your little ones!
Breast milk provides necessary nutrition
Most healthcare professionals recommend breastfeeding for a long period just because of its nutritional values. It is formulated according to your little one’s developing digestive system. This is why you cannot replace it with any formula. It contains everything that is crucial for the healthy growth of your baby, in the right proportion. The most amazing thing is that the composition changes according to the needs of the infant during the initial months.
For example, in the first days after birth, the breast will produce a thick fluid that is yellowish in color. This is known as the colostrum, which is high in protein, low in sugar, and contains many beneficial elements, which are easier for your baby to digest compared to cow’s milk formula. This is the ideal first milk, which helps in developing the newborn’s immature digestive tract. Also, the micro-nutrients present in it are easily absorbed. After a few days, there will be a larger amount of production of milk to satisfy the needs of the baby’s growing stomach.
However, it is important for you to know that breast milk does not have Vitamin D, for which the mother needs to have a very high intake of it.
Breast milk contains vital antibodies
In the initial months after the birth of your baby, there are high chances of your little ones getting infected by bacterias and viruses. Breast milk, or the colostrum, is full of antibodies, particularly immunoglobulin A (IgA), which support the baby’s body to fight against them. IgA forms a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat as well as the digestive system to safeguard them from getting sick.
On the other hand, the formula does not provide a baby with these necessary antibody protections. This is the reason why infants who are not breastfed by their mothers are more vulnerable to various health diseases, including pneumonia, diarrhea, and infections.
Breastfeeding may lessen disease risk
Infants who receive breast milk can get a lot of benefits from it. Besides antibodies, every time you feed your baby, he gets a healthy dose of other nutrients also. All of this is crucial to boost immunity against various diseases such as cold, infection, or illness.
Particularly during the first six months, your baby can be protected against diseases that haven’t yet been immunized by his body with the help of your antibody-rich milk, including influenza and whooping cough.
For a more detailed study, check out the diseases and illnesses that your breast milk can fight against for your baby. All the benefits can perform the best if the mother chooses to breastfeed exclusively.
- Respiratory tract infection – Breastfeeding can work as a protection against multiple respiratory as well as acute gastrointestinal illnesses that babies are prone to.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – breastfeeding can reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Middle ear infection – Breastfeeding can also be beneficial to avoid infections against the middle ear, sinus, throat, etc.
- Cold and infection – There is a lower risk of getting serious cold or infection for infants who receive breast milk.
- Bowel disease – Babies who regularly get breast milk are less prone to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Diabetes – With the right amount of sugar composition in the milk, breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing diabetes and non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
- Allergic diseases – Diseases like asthma, atopic dermatitis, and Eczema have fewer chances to affect infants who get regular breast milk.
- Gut infection – Breast milk reduces the chances of gut infection.
- Childhood leukemia – Breastfeeding can be linked with the reduced chances of childhood leukemia.
- Intestinal tissue damage – Preterm babies need to be fed breast milk to reduce the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis.
Breast milk improves the baby’s healthy weight
Breastfeeding is the best way to promote healthy weight gain, preventing childhood obesity. According to studies, breastfeeding for more than four months has a significant impact on the baby when it comes to the reduction of developing overweight and obesity. Primarily, it is considered because of the development of different bacteria. Since babies who are breastfed have higher amounts of gut bacteria that are extremely beneficial to the body, that may also affect fat storage.
Besides that, infants who are breastfed have more leptin in the body compared to those who are formula-fed. This is one of the most important hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage.
The best thing is that babies who are breastfed develop their sense of self-regulation when it comes to milk intake. This can build healthy eating patterns, as they are better at eating only till the time they satisfy their hunger.
The weight-related advantages of breast milk can persist for many years to come.
Breastfeeding can make your child smarter
According to some reports, there are differences between the brain development of infants who are breastfed and formula-fed. It is evaluated that the difference is because of the physical intimacy, eye contact, touch, and other actions associated with breastfeeding. Besides this, the nutrient content in breast milk also matters. It contains key components for brain development such as cholesterol, arachidonic acid, Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, along with various crucial hormones such as thyroxine, oxytocin, estrogen, etc.
Studies have also indicated that babies who are breastfed have higher intelligence, with fewer chances of developing behavioral problems or learning difficulties during the growth period.
Hence, in simple words, we can conclude that breastfeeding can help your kid become smarter.
The most evident effect is seen in preterm babies as they have a more significant risk of developmental issues. The researches have clearly shown a positive effect on breastfeeding babies for long-term brain development.
How can you make breastfeeding easier?
There are many things that you can do to make the entire process a lot easier. However, we have mentioned a few of them below which have proved to be the most effective ones –
- A good latch is the best thing you can do by bringing your baby near your breast. If your little one is sucking the nipple only, gently break the suction by placing your clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth. Try the process again.
- If you are feeling pain and want to delay the feedings, get help from a lactation consultant regarding your issue, as a delay in feeding can actually cause more pain and harm to your supply.
- Change your positions each time you breastfeed to distribute the pressure on different parts of the breast.
- Do not wear bras or clothes that stick to your body or are too tight. It can put pressure on your breast. Look for comfortable breastfeeding dresses.
- In case you prefer using cream, nipple shield, or hydrogel pads, have a word with your specialist or healthcare provider first.
- If you have sore nipples, use non-aspirin pain relievers after you consult your doctor or specialist.
- Change your nursing pads regularly to avoid the trapping of moisture.
- Do not use soap or ointment with astringents or other chemicals on your nipple area.
- Wash your nipple with clean water before breastfeeding.
The bottom line
There are many benefits that your infant can get from breastfeeding. This is the reason why numerous renowned health agencies recommend it for babies for as long as possible. This can result in avoiding various medical problems for the baby.
Enough loaded with antibodies to essential nutrients, breast milk consumption can protect your baby against various illnesses and chronic diseases. Hence, it is best to start breastfeeding as soon as your baby is born, if you’re able to.
Plus, not to mention, breastfeeding can also be beneficial for the mother for all the good reasons. Hence no matter what your choice is, it is our duty to let you know about the benefits of breastfeeding.