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Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom & Baby

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  • April 16, 2021
  • MKB Team

    

“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth.”

-Pamela K. Wiggins

Breastfeeding a baby is completely a personal decision, but it’s recommended only because the advantages on offer are endless. As breast milk has just the right amount of nutrients, it provides optimal nutrition for your baby. Babies can digest it easily and it’s available naturally.

Most paediatricians recommend that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for 6 months, and if possible continue even after baby is introduced to solid food. Breastfeeding is recommended till baby is 1-2 years old as the benefits of breastfeeding last that long.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you begin breastfeeding as early as one hour after birth to reap the biggest benefits.

Let’s check out 10 benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby: 

 Breast milk provides ideal nutrition

Breast milk has possibly everything that your baby needs for the first 6 months of life, and that too in the right proportions. What’s astonishing is that the composition of breast milk changes as per baby’s changing needs, especially during the first month.

During the initial days after birth, your breasts produce a thick, yellowish fluid called colostrum. This is low in sugar and high in protein and packed with beneficial compounds. Colostrum is a wonder food that no formula milk can match. This ideal first milk enables your baby’s digestive tract to develop. As your baby’s stomach grows in size, your breasts automatically begin to produce larger amounts of milk. Keep in mind that the only thing that might be absent in colostrum is Vitamin D. hence, Vitamin D drops are recommended.

 Breast milk has important antibodies

Breast milk is packed with antibodies that help your baby ward off viruses and bacteria, which is so important in those early months. Colostrum is mentionable here as it provides big amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as many other antibodies.

When you’re exposed to viruses or bacteria, you start producing antibodies that then go into the milk. That’s called immunity!

What IgA does is that it protects the baby from getting sick by forming a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat, and digestive system. Unlike colostrum, formula milk does not offer antibody protection for babies. Studies indicate that babies that do not breastfeed are more susceptible to diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea, and forms of infection.

 Breast milk ensures baby’s healthy weight

Breastfeeding enables healthy weight gain in baby and keeps away childhood obesity. This might be because of the development of various beneficial gut bacteria that might affect fat storage in breastfeeding babies. Babies feeding on breast milk also have more leptin in their systems than babies having formula milk. Leptin is a key hormone that regulates fat storage and appetite.

It’s been observed that breastfed babies develop healthy eating patterns as they grow up. As they self-regulate their milk intake as babies, this trait remains as they grow up when they eat till their hunger is satisfied.

 Breastfeeding could make children smarter

Although this is not conclusive, some studies have suggested that there is a considerable difference in terms of brain development between babies fed on breast milk and formula milk. The difference suggested might be because of the physical intimacy associated with breastfeeding as well as the nutrients on offer.

 Breastfeeding may help mothers lose weight

While some women appear to gain weight during breastfeeding, others seem to lose weight without effort. But what’s true is that breastfeeding does burn those calories, and lactating mothers do burn more fat than their non-lactating counterparts.

 Breastfeeding contracts the uterus

Your uterus increases in size during pregnancy, and the expansion is considerable, from the size of a pear to occupying almost the entire space of your abdomen. Post-delivery, the uterus undergoes a process known as involution, which returns the uterus to its normal size. A hormone named Oxytoxin that increases considerably during your pregnancy helps speed up this process and also reduces bleeding.

  1. Breastfeeding mothers are at lower risk for depression

PPD or Postpartum depression is a type of depression that may develop shortly after childbirth. A 2012 indicates that women who do not breastfeed are more likely to develop PPD than breastfeeding mothers. Also, moms who experience PPD early after the delivery stage are more likely to have problems breastfeeding and might breastfeed for a smaller duration. Do contact your doctor immediately if you have any symptoms of PPD.

 Breastfeeding reduces disease risk of moms

Breastfeeding may bring about long-term protection for you against cancer and other diseases. The total time a woman spends breastfeeding her baby is linked with a smaller risk of contracting breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding moms are also at a lower risk against high blood pressure, arthritis, high blood fats and heart disease.

  1. Breastfeeding prevents menstruation

Continued breastfeeding also causes a break in ovulation and menstruation. The suspension of menstrual cycles might well be Nature’s way to ensure that a woman gets that space and time between pregnancies.

Was this article helpful? Do you have any benefits of breastfeeding that we missed out? Do share with us. Also send us any questions you might have and we’ll feature them in our Q&A session.

 

Q&A

You ask and we answer!

 

How does breastfeeding benefit the mom?

Radhika Mantri, New Delhi.

It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower your risk of osteoporosis.

 

What foods should I avoid while breastfeeding?

Susan Peters, Auckland.

Here are 5 foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

  1. Fish high in mercury.
  2. Some herbal supplements.
  3.  
  4.  
  5. Highly processed foods.

 

What fruits help produce breast milk?

Meghna Priyadarshi, Mumbai.

Here are 8 fruits that help the cause.

  • Green papaya.
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Sapodilla (chiku)
  •  
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MKB Team

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