The challenges associated with breastfeeding force many new moms to choose formula feeds over breastfeeding. The two most common reasons are discomfort caused by sore breasts and the reluctance to feed in public. Agreed these are valid concerns, but in doing so you are depriving your child of ideal nourishment that will fortify him for life.
1st August – 7th August is celebrated as Breastfeeding Week across the world. Therefore we believe that there is no better time than this to explain why breastfeeding is the best option for your baby. We hope you enjoy it.
Breastfeeding Benefits for the Baby
Colostrum, the thick yellow milk produced during pregnancy and the first few days after delivery is the richest source of nutrients and anti-bodies. There is no equivalent substitute for it. The anti-bodies in breast milk build resistance against infections, viruses and bacteria. It automatically reduces the risk of medical conditions such as asthma, allergies, respiratory illnesses, ear infections and diarrhea. It was also studied that babies who drank their mother’s milk exclusively for the first 6 months made fewer trips to the pediatrician’s office.
By the fifth day after childbirth, the consistency of the breast milk changes. It becomes thinner. It contains water, sugar, protein, vitamins and fats in the right amounts required to sustain growth and development thereafter.
The baby’s body is still getting accustomed to the digestive process. Formula feeds are made of proteins derived from cow’s milk. These proteins are heavier to digest and may cause stomach problems such as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and constipation in your little one. Breast milk on the other hand is easier to digest.
Maintaining skin to skin contact in the first few days is also important. Breastfeeding provides for a distinct bonding between the mother and the child. The physical closeness provides warmth and security for your child.
Breastfed babies are able to maintain a healthy weight and are observed to have higher IQs in later childhood. Researchers also state that breastfeeding might help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), diabetes, selected types of cancer and obesity especially in premature babies.
Breastfeeding Benefits to the Mother
There are also benefits to the mother. Breastfeeding can help mothers with one of their biggest concerns – post pregnancy weight loss. Breastfeeding burns calories at a faster rate and thus helps you shed pregnancy weight quickly without the need to diet. The process also prompts the body to release Oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that supports post delivery healing. It helps restore the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size. Oxytocin also reduces the intensity and time for which you may suffer uterine bleeding after childbirth. Additionally, breastfeeding lowers the risk of osteoporosis, breast and ovarian cancer at a later stage in life.
And though it may not matter much to you, breastfeeding will help save time and energy spent on sterilizing bottles and nipples and the expenses incurred on bottles and formula feeds.
Healthcare professionals suggest that babies should be fed only mother’s milk for the first 6 months after childbirth. Thereafter, she can decide to continue breastfeeding until the age of one or she can start weaning the baby gradually.
Ultimately, the choice is yours!