Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child Development
Benefits of breastfeeding for child development
It is entirely the personal decision of a mother if she wants to breastfeed her baby or not. Most of the women want to breastfeed, while some may not want to due to medical reasons, joining back to work quickly, lack of support at home and other reasons.
However, if you have any problems breastfeeding your baby, it is highly recommended that you try your best to solve them because nothing works better than your breast milk for your baby in the initial stages.
Many reputed organizations such as the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) have recommended that babies should be exclusively breastfed until they are 6 months old. Then they should be breastfed for a year at least along with additional foods such as rice, fruits, vegetables, grains and more.
Why is it breastfeeding recommended quite strongly? Is it only because the mother’s milk contains all possible nutrients that a baby wants?
Definitely, not, it is also because breastfeeding helps in developing an emotional bond between the mother and her baby – a bond so strong that it stays forever in their lives. Let’s see how breastfeeding yields a lot of benefits for the baby and the mother in the following sections:
Top Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby
Right amount of nutrients for the baby
The magic of breast milk is that it contains the right nutrients for the baby in the right quantities and the right consistency. For the first 6 months of his life, your baby needs lots of nutrients for his overall physical, mental, emotional and psychological development.
A major highlight of breast milk is that its consistency and composition keep changing based on the baby’s demands and requirements.
In the first few days of childbirth, a mother’s breast produces thick and yellowish milk known as colostrum. This is loaded with all the good fats that are important for the development of the baby’s tender digestive system. Within a few days, the breast milk starts to get thinner in consistency, because it contains a lot of other nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Studies have proved that breast milk contains everything a baby needs except Vitamin D. This is why it is recommended to show babies in the morning sunlight for about half an hour every day so that their skin absorbs the sunlight.
Loaded with antibodies to fight infections
Today, there are many infant formula foods available in the market for mothers who cannot breastfeed. These formulas are designed in such a way to mirror the composition of breast milk. While they can mirror the composition of fats and proteins, they can never mirror the composition of antibodies. This is because unlike breast milk, formula foods don’t contain antibodies at all.
The first-ever antibody to reach the infant is IgA (immunoglobulin) found in the colostrum. This helps to build a strong defense mechanism along the baby’s nose, throat and digestive system against external infections. Thanks to these antibodies, even when a sick mother breastfeeds, she doesn’t pass on the flu symptoms to her baby.
Makes baby less prone to various ailments
The antibodies and nutrients found in breast milk help to build the baby’s immunity system very well. Therefore, breastfed babies are less prone to various ailments such as ear infections, lower respiratory tract infections, infections pertaining to cold & flu, gut-related ailments, allergies, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndromes and childhood leukemia. Many studies conducted on babies across the globe have proved these facts with numbers.
Helps in weight management
Childhood obesity is one of the major problems in countries such as the USA. Doctors studying the root causes of obesity have concluded that breastfed babies are at least 30% less prone to obesity when compared to formula-fed babies.
A major reason for this is that breast milk promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the baby’s gut, thereby making it immune. Therefore, there is no room for unnecessary fat storage in the guts in breastfed babies.
Also, breast milk promotes the secretion of the leptin hormone in babies. This is exactly the hormone that manages the appetite and fat storage functionalities of babies.
Can improve mental sharpness
The emotional bonding that is developed because of the skin-skin contact of the mother and baby while breastfeeding, plays an important role in the overall mental sharpness of babies.
Studies have proved that most of the time, breastfed babies are more intelligent when compared to formula-fed babies. Also, this bonding helps in their overall personality development as well, as they are less prone to fall in the trap of behavioral issues.
How does breastfeeding help the mother?
Helps in weight management of the mother
If you have been looking at ways to shed off the extra flab on your post-pregnancy body, here is a piece of good news for you. It has been proved officially that breastfeeding can help you lose weight.
However, you shouldn’t expect overnight results in this process. In the first three months of breastfeeding, you may feel hungrier than ever and you may also end up eating a lot of food.
However, after 3 months of childbirth, your body would have adjusted to the breastfeeding schedules based on your baby’s demands. When your body falls into a system, its fat-burning system also starts working properly.
After 3 months of breastfeeding, you will notice that you lose weight far quicker than your friend who hasn’t been breastfeeding. You have to follow a healthy diet and physical fitness schedule every day to compliment your body’s regulated fat-burning potential.
Helps in the quicker and safer contraction of the uterus
Your uterus, which is as small as a ball, keeps increasing considerably during your pregnancy to hold your baby. After childbirth, it contracts again, and this process is called involution. This natural contraction is possible due to the oxytocin hormone that is secreted by your body during your pregnancy.
During your labor, this hormone is secreted at very high levels to help to get the baby out safely and aid the uterus to get back to its original size without any pain or blood loss.
This is also the same hormone that promotes the supply of milk in your breasts immediately after delivery. Therefore, when you breastfeed your baby, these hormones are secreted in large quantities.
This helps in the natural contraction of your uterus as well. Therefore, breastfeeding helps in the faster, safer and less painful process of involution when compared to women who don’t breastfeed.
Helps in mental calmness & contentment
The process of childbirth is considered a rebirth of all mothers. While some mothers handle it well, others don’t. Close to 15% of the mothers suffer from postpartum depression, especially when they aren’t able to breastfeed due to certain medical reasons. They feel that they are not taking care of their babies as well and this thought makes fall into severe depression.
This problem is eliminated in the case of breastfeeding mothers. During the pregnancy and nursing phases, the oxytocin hormone is at the highest levels in a woman’s body. This hormone is known for its calming properties. It helps breastfeeding mothers to bond with their babies and keeps them relaxed and free of depression.
Develops your immunity as well, along with your baby’s
Breastfeeding not only improves the baby’s immunity but the mother’s as well. Some studies have proved that women who have breastfed for about 12 months in their lives are at least 28% less prone to ovarian and breast cancer in the later stages of their lives.
Apart from this, women who have breastfed for at least one year in their lives are less prone to severe ailments such as cardiac diseases, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure fluctuations, arthritis, and more.
Helps you save a lot of money and effort
Infant formula foods are quite costly because they are commercially prepared in a sterile environment, using the right kind of nutrients to mirror the composition of breast milk. When you invest in formula feeds, you should also invest in other equipment such as feeding bottles, spare nipples, clean containers to mix the formula, sterilizing vessels and more.
With breastfeeding, you can eliminate all these problems because breast milk is available for free anytime that your kid demands the same.
You can breastfeed your baby at any public place today, as there are separate feeding booths available for your convenience. You are giving your baby the best food he can ever get, without spending a penny, in the form of your breast milk.
Since breastfeeding comes with a lot of benefits for you and your baby, you should try to exclusively breastfeed your baby until he is 6 months old.
If you are unable to do so due to your or your baby’s medical conditions, you can choose to give him infant formula foods. However, if you are not breastfeeding for other reasons, we would recommend you to try different positions to assess your comfort so that you don’t deprive your baby of your milk.