Breast milk remains and will ever be the best source of nutrients for a newborn. It is nutrient-dense, easily digestible, and commonly available. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) mostly recommends breastfeeding for at least 6 months, even when solid meals are given until the infant is at least a year old unless both mom and baby want to stop (and that’s when weaning starts). In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) encourages breastfeeding for a child until he’s two years old or longer because the advantages last that long. However, for the best results, these organizations advocate starting as soon as one hour after birth. Let’s take a look at the benefits of breastfeeding/breastfeeding benefits.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby
Below are some of the benefits of breastfeeding for babies
1. Breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for babies
Doctors recommend nursing for at least 6 months, if not much longer. Do you know why? That’s because breast milk contains every nutrient a newborn must get in the first six months of life, in the proper amounts. Its composition changes with the changing needs of the baby, especially during the first month. Colostrum, a thick, yellowish fluid produced by your breasts in the first few days after birth is highly proteinous, low in sugar, and nutrient-dense. It’s indeed a miracle food that a formula cannot replace.
Colostrum is the best first milk that aids the development of a newborn’s digestive tract. As the baby’s tummy grows, more milk is produced after the first few days. However, the only thing that may be missing from this milk supply is most likely vitamin D. Breast milk will not supply enough nutrition unless you yourself consume a lot of vitamin D. As a result, vitamin D drops are commonly prescribed. See the best vitamin D supplements you can use.
2. Breastfeeding may reduce disease risk
Exclusive breastfeeding, when your baby receives only breast milk, comes with lots of benefits. It may lower your baby’s risk of developing a variety of illnesses and diseases, including:
- Respiratory tract infections: Breastfeeding can prevent your baby from various respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments.
- Breastfeeding has been linked to a reduction in gastrointestinal illnesses.
- Tissue injury in the intestines: Breast milk feeding to premature neonates has been associated with a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis.
- Breastfeeding may help lower the risk of pediatric leukemia.
- Middle ear infection: Breastfeeding, especially for as long as possible and exclusively, may protect the middle ear, throat and against sinus infections much beyond childhood.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): Breastfeeding will help lower the risk of SIDS, particularly when done exclusively.
- Allergic reactions: Breastfeeding has been related to a lower risk of asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema in children.
- Infections and colds: Babies who got exclusive 6 months breastfeeding have a lower chance of developing major colds and ear or throat infections.
- Intestinal disorders: Breastfed babies may have a lower risk of developing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Diabetes mellitus: Breastfeeding has been related to a lower risk of type 1 diabetes and non-insulin-dependent diabetes (type 2)
3. Breastfeeding Favors Brain Development
One of the benefits of breastfeeding is brain development. Some studies show a relationship between breastfeeding and smartness. In fact, it’s likely that there may be some differences in brain development between a breastfed and formula-fed baby. It’s worth mentioning that these differences may be linked to the nutrient content as well as touch and eye contact associated with breastfeeding. In addition, properly breastfed kids are likely to have better intelligence scores and are less likely to develop learning difficulties as they grow older.
4. Makes your Child Sleep Better
Do you want your baby to have better sleep? Research shows breastfed, and formula-fed babies are likely to wake for milk during the night. However, the difference is breastfed babies get back to sleep sooner. Why? The oxytocin produced in a baby’s body when he gets breast milk makes him feel sleepy afterward. Besides that, other hormones and nucleotides in breast milk help your baby develop healthy sleep-wake patterns.
5. Breastfed Babies May Become Healthier Children with:
- Greater immunity to infection
- Fewer instances of allergies, eczema, and asthma
- Lower risk of type I and II diabetes
- Fewer cavities
- Improved brain maturation
- Less likelihood of becoming obese later in childhood
- Fewer childhood cancers, including leukemia and lymphomas
- Lower rates of respiratory illness
- Fewer instances of Crohn’s disease and colitis
- Fewer speech and orthodontic problems
6. Lifelong Benefits of Breastfeeding for Babies
Breastfeeding benefits your baby way beyond the first six months or years. In fact, the more breast milk he gets, the more advantages there are, healthwise. Each time you breastfeed, you raise the level of oxytocin (the love hormone) in both your bodies, and that encourages bonding. This will help build a foundation for future relationships and may even help your little one cope with stress in later life.
In addition, research also shows breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma and may develop better eyesight and dental health than those who had just formula milk. Besides protection from cancers, breastfeeding also helps promote healthy weight gain and reduces the chances of developing type 1 or type 2 diabetes as an adult.
- Foods to avoid while breastfeeding
- An ideal breastfeeding diet plan
- Herbs to improve breastmilk supply
- Getting a good breastfeeding latch
Breastfeeding Benefits for Breastfeeding Mom
Below are some of the benefits of breastfeeding for moms
1. Contribution to healing process
Breastfeeding benefits the body by aiding the healing process after a baby’s birth and prevents severe postpartum bleeding.
2. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk for depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a kind of depression that can post-delivery. Mothers who breastfeed appear to have a lower risk of developing postpartum depression than those who wean too early or do not breastfeed at all. Those who experience postpartum depression soon after delivery, on the other hand, are more likely to have difficulty breastfeeding and to do so for a shorter period. It’s best to inform your doctor right away if you’re experiencing any PPD symptoms.
3. Save time and money
Depending on your schedules, preparing a formula may be time-consuming. Breast milk, on the other hand, is always ready and at the proper temperature.
4. Breastfeeding reduces your disease risk
Breastfeeding benefits you by providing long-term protection from cancer and other diseases. Breast and ovarian cancer risks are linked to the amount of time a woman spends breastfeeding. Apart from cancer, breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of developing:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
5. Emotional Benefits of Breastfeeding for Moms
Aside from the health benefits of breastfeeding, breastfeeding also comes with emotional benefits for mom and baby. Part of which is:
- Increased self-esteem and confidence.
- Breastfeeding facilitates travel, and it’s always fresh and at the appropriate temperature.
- Breastfeeding provides the naturally calming hormones oxytocin and prolactin, which help the nursing mother relax and feel better.
- The mother-child link is strengthened physically and emotionally. Breastfeeding encourages more skin-to-skin contact, as well as stroking and holding. Many people believe that loving connections throughout the first years of life can aid children and adults with social and behavioral issues.
- Improved Calmness: Breastfed babies cry less and are less likely to get sick often. Breastfeeding can help a baby’s health and can benefit the whole family’s health in terms of body, mind, and spirit.
- Breastfeeding women learn to recognize their babies’ cues, and newborns learn to trust their carriers.