BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
Why is breastfeeding important for you and your baby?
Breastfeeding has long-term benefits for your baby, lasting right into adulthood. Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. Breastfeeding also has health benefits for you. The more you breastfeed, the greater the benefits.
Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.
Here is a list of selected seven (7) most important benefits that breastfeeding offers to the mother and the baby:
1. Breastfeeding keeps your baby healthy
Research shows that the incidences of diseases like of pneumonia, colds and viruses are reduced among breastfed babies (Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession). Other diseases include gastrointestinal infections like diarrhea and ear infections. It is also said to protect babies against a number of allergies.
2. Stronger mother’s bones
Nutritionist expert Ruth Lawrence reports that women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. When a woman is pregnant and lactating, her body absorbs calcium much more efficiently, hence making her bones strong.
3. Fewer problems with weight
Breastfeeding can help control both mother’s and baby’s weight. Breastfeeding is said to burn mother’s calories. According to Ruth Lawrence, breast milk contains 20 calories per 30ml of milk, therefore if you feed your baby 600mls a day, that will be equal to about 400 calories lost from your body.
4. Helps the mother to heal after delivery
Breastfeeding makes the mother produce the hormone called oxytocin. This hormone helps the uterus contract reducing the likelihood of bleeding. It also helps the uterus go back to its normal size earlier compared to the mothers who do not breastfeed.
5. Less risk of cancer
Breastfeeding can decrease your baby’s risk of some childhood cancers. It also protects the mother from breast and ovarian cancer.
6. A break from menstruation cycle
Continuous breastfeeding without giving the baby formula will delay ovulation and hence delay menstruation. This is aided by prolactin hormone which suppresses the hormones that are responsible for menstruation cycle. This fact makes breastfeeding to be 98 percent to 99 percent effective as a postbaby birth control option.
The closeness and comfort of breastfeeding helps cultivate the bond between the mother and the baby hence a loving relationship. Dads and moms can’t spoil the baby, so give your baby all the cuddling she or he wants. Breastfeeding starts naturally, however learning to breastfeed can take a bit of time and needs patience. For more information about breastfeeding please consult your baby’s Paediatrician