Assalam o Alaikum my dear sisters,
As we all know that the first week of August 1-7 is celebrated as ‘Breastfeeding Awareness Week’. It’s a time to appreciate those mothers and families who stay committed to breastfeeding. It helps in educating new mothers and families who are still considering their choices to feed their newborn babies about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Today I am writing about the tremendous benefits of breastfeeding both for babies and mothers. Here is a short list of benefits of breastfeeding which will provide complete guidance to new mothers struggling with new phases of motherhood. It will help them decide the best food for their babies which not only nurtures the baby’s body but also provide a wide range of benefits to mothers.
Breastfeeding Benefits for the baby:
• Breastfeeding reduces infant mortality rates. Currently, there are 9 million infant deaths per year. Breastfeeding alone saves up to an additional 6 million lives resulting from infectious diseases e.g. pneumonia.
• Colostrum (first few days) is clear, nutrient-rich milk (high proteins and low fat) produced immediately after delivery.
• It is rich in antibodies that help prevent infection and boosts infant’s immunity. Infants that are breastfed exclusively have fewer gastrointestinal, respiratory, ear, and urinary infections.
• It consists of many white blood cells that protect against infections.
• It contains growth factors that help in the maturation of intestines and the prevention of allergies and food intolerance.
• It is a rich source of Vitamin A which helps decrease the incidence of measles and dehydration (most common causes of infant death).
• It has Laxative properties that help clear meconium, thus preventing jaundice.
• The composition of the breast milk changes after few days according to the infants’ requirements and needs of the body, therefore, acting as the best source of nutrition and an adequate amount of calories.
• It is easily digestible.
“Breastfeeding is not a choice, It’s a Responsibility” “The Fresh Quotes”
• It helps lower pH which promotes the growth of lactobacillus in the GI tract, therefore, promoting gut health.
• Breast milk is 88% water, therefore, fulfilling the water requirement of an infant and preventing dehydration.
• Apart from antibodies and white blood cells, Breast milk contains macrophages that produce lysozymes (enzymes that help destroy bacteria).
• It helps protect against allergies, asthma, and eczema.
• It could help prevent obesity in children.
• Economical benefits. Formula milk is expensive whereas breast milk is readily available and saves so much money. It also reduces the workload of washing and sterilizing feeding bottles. Honestly speaking, the later one is one of the reasons, I chose to exclusively breastfeed my daughter.
• Higher IQ levels: Studies are still being carried out but some studies show children that were breastfed had higher IQs later in life as compared to those that were bottle-fed. Also, fatty acids (from fats) boost brain and nervous system development.
• Psychological benefits and social development: Significant evidence suggests that breastfed babies are, on average more assertive, mature and more secure with themselves as they grew up.
• Long term benefits: helps protect against chronic diseases such as Cardiovascular diseases later in life, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, childhood cancers, and celiac disease.
NOTE: Exclusively breastfed infants may require supplements such as:
1. Vitamin D (400IU/day)
2. Fluoride (after 6 months if not sufficient in water)
3. Iron (6-12 months only if not receiving fortified cereals/meat/meat alternatives).
Please consult a pediatrician for prescribing supplements for your baby. Don’t self prescribe
Breastfeeding Benefits for the mother:
• Breastfeeding creates a strong bond between the mother and the child giving a satisfactory feeling of motherhood.
• It helps to decreases the severity of post-partum depression. Breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin which is known as the love hormone and prolactin which helps in relaxation and reduces stress.
• Breastfeeding helps in burning extra 500-600 calories, therefore, it may help in post-pregnancy weight loss.
• It helps in the involution of the uterus by releasing oxytocin and decreases the amount of blood loss after pregnancy.
• It may reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.
• It may help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
• It is economical and environmentally friendly.
• Lactational amenorrhea can also help prolong the return of fertility and act as natural means for child spacing (but it is not a reliable method).
I encourage all breastfeeding mothers and those who are considering to breastfeed their babies to talk to their healthcare practitioners or lactation consultants. Drop your feedback in the comments section to help me know how did this article benefits you.