Breastfeeding your baby is one of the most natural things to do and is also the most effective way to ensure your child’s optimum health.
A mother’s milk is the ideal food for infants and is rich in proteins and antibodies. They act as a natural vaccine and protect the newborn child from infections and illnesses.
However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost 2 out of 3 infants are not breastfed for the recommended duration of at least 6 months due to lack of support or the extensive marketing of formulas.
This World Breastfeeding Week, we have come up with 10 reasons why you must breastfeed your baby, with an intention to encourage you.
1) A mother’s milk contains important antibodies
As mentioned above, a mother’s milk is rich in important antibodies that keep the newborn immune until its own immune system develops. A mother’s first milk, also known as Colostrum, is high in Immunoglobulin A and other antibodies.
A child is prone to many illnesses at birth or at a later point of time in life. Breastfeeding your child can drastically reduce the chances of illness like allergies, asthma, ear and respiratory infections, diarrhea, and protection from other viruses and bacteria.
2) Is beneficial to the mother as well
In addition to the newborn, the mother will also benefit while breastfeeding. It helps the mother in quickly recovering from childbirth and also reduces the chances of certain health problems like Type 2 Diabetes, certain Breast, and Ovarian Cancers.
3) Breastfeeding prevents childhood obesity
Studies show that infants who are breastfed have a reduced risk of developing childhood obesity. It also mentions that breast milk consists of beneficial gut bacteria that positively affects how fat is stored in a child. The milk is also rich in Leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and fat storage.
4) Breastfeeding may boost IQ levels
While research is yet to conclude this, certain studies have shown that breastfed infants developed higher IQ levels compared to formula-fed infants. The fatty acids present in breastmilk is believed to be the reason for this.
5) Breastfeeding may benefit society as well
Yes, that’s right. Breastfeeding your child may directly or indirectly benefit society. Every year, over 1000 infants die due to malnourishment and other factors. This can be prevented through breastfeeding. This also results in saving money by not having the need to purchase formulas, which are known to be expensive. Money is also saved due to the fact that breastfed child needs fewer sick visits and hospitalizations. And finally, unlike formulas that come in cans and plastic containers, creating more trash, breastmilk is found naturally.
6) Mothers who breastfeed may lose weight
Studies have found out that mothers who breastfeed their child require an additional 500 calories per day. While the fat burning is little to none in the initial 3 months after giving birth, it is found to increase in the 3-6 months period of breastfeeding. However, the amount of fat loss also depends on diet and physical activities.
7) Releases good hormones
Breastfeeding releases good hormones that promotes sense of fulfillment and joy in mothers. Prolactin promotes a peaceful and relaxing sensation towards your child. Oxytocin is another hormone that is released during breastfeeding. It promotes love and attachment between you and your precious child.
This release of good hormones in the mother also reduces the risk of developing postpartum depression shortly after childbirth.
8) Breastfeeding may prevent or delay menstruation
It is observed that continued breastfeeding may pause menstruation and even ovulation. Few people use this as an advantage for birth control during the initial months after delivery. However, do note that this is not an effective birth control method.
You may consider this as an added advantage of breastfeeding that allows you to focus on your newborn child instead of that dreaded time of the month.
9) Helps in contracting uterus
During childbirth, the uterus expands immensely. It returns to its prepregnancy size through a process called involution. Breastfeeding promotes the generation of Oxytocin hormone which in turn encourages quicker involution and reduced bleeding after childbirth.
10) Maternal fulfillment
This is perhaps the most worthy reason to breastfeed your child. It promotes a feeling of an emotional and physical connection between you and your child. Most mothers believe that it is a powerful and beautiful feeling that only a mother and her child can understand.
Now that you understand the innumerable benefits of breastfeeding, you may want to start the process if you haven’t already. However, few mothers may not be able to breastfeed and in that case, a formula can be used.