Benefits Of Breastfeeding
Breast milk is like ice cream, penicillin, and love wrapped in a single package.In this fast-paced, busy life, we often despair about the wonder that is breastfeeding. What with all the contradictory and confusing information and pop-culture cues coming our way, one is often left weighing the pros and cons of breastfeeding.
But did you know that there are a number of good reasons why breastfeeding is beneficial not just for the baby, but for the mother as well? Read on!
For the baby:
- Nutritive, and easily digested – Breast milk is easily digested by the baby, and is complete in its nutritive value. It has the right amount of sugars, proteins, and minerals that are required by the baby for rapid growth. In fact, it is essential for the baby’s growth and development.
- Builds immunity – Just after a baby is born, the mother secretes the first milk, called colostrum, which is yellow in colour and rich in secretory IgA (immunoglobulin A) – a protective substance that guards against germs. This substance lines the baby’s mucous membranes, and helps produce antibodies specific to the germs present in the body.
- Reduces the risk of diseases – Mother’s milk is tailored, by nature, for the baby. It is designed to help the baby grow into a healthy individual. Drinking mother’s milk protects the baby from ear and respiratory infections, obesity, diabetes, asthma, diarrhoea, vomiting, childhood leukemia, eczema etc.
- Prevents SIDS – Infants are vulnerable to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Studies have concluded that breastfeeding for the first month can help prevent SIDS.
- Higher IQ – A connection has been observed between breastfeeding and IQ. Kids who have been breastfed display higher IQ levels, and lower incidence of behaviour and learning disorders. Evidently, mother’s milk helps in brain development.
- Satisfies emotional needs – Breastfeeding brings the mother and the baby closer to each other, and builds a nourishing emotional bond, which helps the baby feel loved and protected. This is crucial for the emotional development of the child.
For the mother:
- Helps shed weight – Are you worried about how to shed those extra kilos that you gained during pregnancy? Simple – breastfeed! The extra calories in your body will be converted into milk for the baby, who actually needs it.
- Is uterus friendly – Breastfeeding helps release the hormone oxytocin, which, in turn, helps the uterus shrink into its former size – so you get back into shape faster. Furthermore, breastfeeding reduces post-delivery uterine bleeding, thus speeding up recovery.
- Natural contraception – If breastfeeding is done regularly, following a certain pattern, then it acts as natural contraception (probably by controlling the menstrual cycle). So breastfeed your baby, and enjoy your sexual life without having to worry!
- Prevents osteoporosis – Lactation offers protection against osteoporosis. How? Bones absorb more calcium when mothers are lactating, and this makes them dense enough to stay strong down the years, says Ruth A. Lawrence, an expert on infant nutrition.
- Keeps you safe from cancers – Breastfeeding is known to lower the risk of cancers, especially breast cancer. Though it’s not clear how this happens, there are theories about changes in breast tissues, and hormone secretions that are protective.
But how can working mothers breastfeed? Working mothers may opt to express their milk, and leave it with the caregiver for their baby, or simply take an extended maternity leave!