The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom and Baby
Most health authorities strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively for at least 6 months. While some women are unable to breastfeed, others simply choose not to do it.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding has major health benefits for both the mother and baby. Nonetheless, making the decision to breastfeed is a very personal matter. This overview may be able to help you decide.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby
We all know that breastmilk provides the best possible nutrition for your growing baby. However, the benefits of this magical elixir of life go so much farther! Here are reasons to breastfeed your little bundle of joy…
Ideal Nutrition for Babies
Breastmilk contains everything your baby needs for the first six months of life. During the first days after birth, the breasts produce a thick, yellowish fluid called colostrum which is high in protein, low in sugar and loaded with beneficial compounds. Colostrum is the ideal first milk and helps the development of the newborn’s immature digestive tract. After the first few days, the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby’s stomach grows.
Breast milk is full of live ingredients, including stem cells, white blood cells and beneficial bacteria. It also includes other bioactive components, such as antibodies, enzymes and hormones, which all help fight infection, prevent disease, and contribute to normal healthy development. In a nutshell, breastmilk has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow.
Breastfeeding May Reduce Disease Risk
Breastfeeding has an impressive list of health benefits. This is particularly true of exclusive breastfeeding, meaning that the infant receives only breast milk. Breastfed babies have:
- Stronger immune systems
- Less diarrhoea, constipation, gastroenteritis, and gastroesophageal reflux
- Fewer colds and respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and whooping cough
- Fewer ear infections, especially those that damage hearing
- Fewer case of bacterial meningitis
- Better vision and less retinopathy of prematurity
- Lower rates of infant mortality
- Lower rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Less illness overall and less hospitalisation
The Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mom
Breastmilk is powerful stuff for babies, but do you know that it is beneficial for mothers too? You may have heard that breastfeeding burns extra calories which may help you to lose pregnancy weight faster. Other than that, there are a lot more benefits moms get through breastfeeding. Check out some of the perks of below:
Healthier for Moms Physically
- Stimulating the uterus to contract and return to normal size.
- Lessen postpartum bleeding.
- Reduce urinary tract infections.
- Reduce the chance of anaemia.
Healthier for Moms Emotionally
- Breastfeeding produces the naturally soothing hormones oxytocin and prolactin that promote stress reduction and positive feelings in the nursing mother.
- Increased confidence and self-esteem
- Increased calmness. Breastfeeding can support the wellness of body, mind, and spirit for the whole family.
- Breastfeeding makes travel easier. Breast milk is always clean and the right temperature.
- Physical/emotional bonding between mother and child is increased. Breastfeeding promotes more skin-to-skin contact, more holding and stroking. Many feel that affectionate bonding during the first years of life help reduces social and behavioural problems in both children and adults.
- Breastfeeding mothers learn to read their infant’s cues and babies learn to trust caregivers. This helps shape the infant’s early behaviour.
Benefits You May Get for Life?
The Ministry of Malaysia encourages mothers to breastfeed exclusively until the baby is six months and continue up to 2 years. Breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of:
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Breast cancer.
- Hip fractures in older age.
- Retention of fat deposited during pregnancy which may result in later obesity.