Breast milk has always been universally endorsed as the best source of nutrition for infants by all of the world’s foremost health and scientific organisations. No other form of feeding has as many potent and long-term benefits as breastfeeding does. But breastfeeding does more than just provide food for the baby. It has a host of benefits for the baby as well as the mom. What are these benefits? Read on to find out.
The benefits of breastfeeding for the baby begin from the moment it's fed for the first time.
- Studies suggest that compared to formula-fed children, breastfed babies have fewer illnesses and show fewer symptoms when they get sick. This is mostly owing to the crucial antibodies present in the breast milk that act as building blocks for the baby’s immune system.
- Breastfed children are less likely to suffer from infectious illnesses such as diarrhoea, ear and respiratory tract infections, etc.
- These babies are also at a lower risk of suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease (a disease where the immune system attacks and damages the bowel system), early onset diabetes, respiratory problems like asthma, and eczema (red, itchy rashes on the skin).
- Breastfed babies also have healthier teeth, and fewer cavities.
- Exclusively breastfeeding the baby for at least four months cuts down the risk of childhood and adolescent obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol as the baby matures.
- Breastfeeding works wonders for premature babies too. It ensures speedy recovery and maturing of the brainstem.
The vast benefits of breastfeeding are not limited to the baby alone.
- Women who breastfeed are at a lower risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding also keeps conditions like osteoporosis at bay.
- Exclusively breastfeeding the baby for up to 4 months straight can also prevent the likelihood of anaemia in new mothers.
- Breastfeeding has been widely considered to be an effective birth control method for women all over the world. And although not entirely reliable, it does have up to 98% effectiveness in the absence of menses and up to six months of breastfeeding. When a mother is breastfeeding, her body naturally stops ovulating. Not ovulating means you can’t get your period or get pregnant. However, it is important to remember that your increase if you’re breastfeeding as well as formula feeding the baby.
- Regular breastfeeding can also help new mothers cope with postpartum depression (mental illness marked by stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, irritability and difficulty bonding with the baby post pregnancy).
- It stimulates the release of the hormone Oxytocin that is responsible for uterine contractions that help push the placenta out of the body, thereby shrinking the uterus back to its original size as it was before pregnancy. This is what helps breastfeeding moms get back to their body sooner than moms who use formula feed. Oxytocin also prevents haemorrhaging. This hormone is also associated with promoting instincts that help a mother develop stronger maternal instincts and bond with the baby better.
- Among diabetic mothers, breastfeeding reduces insulin dependency better than mothers who are formula feeding.
The mother’s body is naturally wired to provide the ideal balance of nutrients essential for the baby’s growth and development of the brain, immune system and healthy gut. So, you see? The baby as well as the mommy have a whole range of benefits to reap from this simple act. And these benefits will last you both for a lifetime!
Got questions or doubts regarding breastfeeding the baby? Ask us in the comments!