Breast milk is nature’s way of providing the best nutrition to a new born. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding to babies for the first six months after birth. There are a number of reasons why mothers should breastfeed their babies, some more important than others.
Here are 10 important reasons to consider why one should breastfeed their baby right away.
1. Breast milk is easily digestible by the baby.
As opposed to formula milk, breast milk is easily digestible by the baby as it is completely natural and does not contain any synthetic or artificial nutrients like those present in formula milk. The protein content in breast milk is also as much as your baby requires, which is easily absorbed by your baby. However, in case of formula milk, more proteins are present, which cannot be absorbed by the baby’s immature digestive system. This is why the stools of formula-fed babies are bulkier than those of breast fed babies.
2. Breastfeeding reduces the chances of breast cancer.
This is one of the most import reasons why mothers should breast feed their babies. Moms who breastfeed their new born are at a reduced risk of suffering from breast cancer at a later stage in life. Moreover, it has been researched that baby girls who are breastfed also have a reduced risk of suffering from breast cancer at a later stage in life.
3. Breast milk increases levels of IQ in children.
Children who are breast-fed develop higher IQ levels than bottle fed milk. This is directly related to the growth hormones which are present in breast milk and are essential for the cognitive growth of the child.
4. Breast milk helps pass meconium.
Meconium is the sticky, black tar-like substance that passes from the babies intestines after birth. A mother’s breast naturally produce colostrum in the initial days after birth which contains natural laxatives, along with antibodies and hormones to help clean the baby’s intestines. Formula-fed babies often have problems getting rid of meconium after birth.
5. Breast milk helps build the baby’s immune system.
Since breast milk is naturally produced, it contains all the essential nutrients, minerals, growth hormones, antibodies and other vitamins required by the baby. These substances help the baby to build a stronger immune system, helping the baby to fight against infections, diseases and illnesses. No formula milk can provide these disease-fighting antibodies.
According to a research, about 80% cells found in breast milk are macrophages, which are cells that help kill bacteria, fungi and viruses. This is why beast-fed babies visit the hospital less often.
6. Breastfeeding increases the emotional bonding between mother and child.
Breastfeeding is a natural process and it helps the mother and the child to bond with each other by spending quality time together. Bottle-fed babies who are not able to make this bond can develop feelings of “neglect” over time. Touching and holding give a very comforting and soothing feeling to the baby.
7. Breastfeeding releases hormones in the mother’s body.
Breastfeeding is known to release the hormone oxytocin in the mother’s breasts, which stimulates the uterine contractions that help the mother to recover quickly after birth. Oxytocin helps the uterus to return back to its normal size. It also helps mothers to regain their figure more quickly. Non-breastfeeding moms are never able to shrink the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size.
8. Breast milk reduces the risk of diabetes in children.
Infants that are breast-fed are at a reduced risk of developing diabetes in the later stages in life. Studies show that lack of breastfeeding is directly associated with the development of Type I diabetes over time. Non-breastfeeding babies are usually introduced to dairy products at an early stage. This increases the level of cow’s milk antibodies in the child’s system, increasing the risk of insulin dependent diabetes. Infants that are breastfed are also known to be at a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
9. Breastfeeding prevents post-partum hemorrhage in mothers.
The release of oxytocin in the mothers body due to breastfeeding helps to shrink the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size and also helps to expel the placenta. The contractions that allow this to happen also shut off the maternal blood vessels that fed the baby during pregnancy, discouraging excessive bleeding after child birth. Mothers who do not breast feed often have to take artificial oxytocin to help prevent post-partum hemorrhage.
10. Breast milk protects the baby against illnesses, infections and diseases.
This reason makes breast milk the best gift for babies provided to every mother by nature. The natural antibodies present in breast milk allow the baby to fight against infections such as ear infections, infections of the respiratory system and intestinal tract, as well as reduces the risk of asthma in infants.
These factors are just some of many other reasons why breast milk is best for you and your child. So if you are a mother who has just given birth, or will give birth soon, you should consider these and make every effort to give the best to yourself and to your child.
Author: Dr. Tina Ureten