Health Benefits of Breast Feeding
The health benefits of breast feeding are numerous. Breast feeding acts as a nutritious diet. It is safer than cow’s milk, helps in prevention against ear and asthma infections, leukemia, high blood pressure, type I diabetes and obesity, boosts gastrointestinal immunityand increases intelligence.
Breast feeding also aids in protection against diarrhea, bacterimia, botulism, urinary tract infection, meningitis and allergic disease in the infant and uterus contraction. It renders in reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, aids with less blood loss during menstruation, bone remineralization, reduced post menopausal hip fractures in mothers.
Breastfeeding refers to the act of feeding the infant with mother’s breast milk. The manner of nourishing the young one by mother’s breast milk is referred to as breast feeding or nursing. It is the best source of food for the first months for the baby, not only giving nutrition to the child but also preventing it from various diseases and ailments. Breast feeding is advantageous to the mother as well. The sucking action produces hormones that give relief from the pain after delivery.
Breastfeeding can be started immediately after the delivery or after 4-5 hours of cesarean. The milk which comes out initially is slightly thick and yellowish in color and acts as a vaccine. Mother’s milk should be the only source of diet for the infant during the first 6 months. No other supplementary vitamin or juice can replace in terms of ideal diet. Breast feeding can be done for two years or more. It not only provides nourishment to the child but also gives relief to the mother after her delivery. Normally, the infants should be breast-feeded 10 to 12 times per day with an average of 12 to 14 minutes on either of the breast.
Except for certain cases, it is good to feed the infant with mother’s milk. During these situations or diseased conditions like a mother having active tuberculosis, HIV infection, or if mother takes illegal drugs, she should not breastfeed her infant. Also an infant suffering from galactosemia must not be fed with mother’s milk.
It has been researched that breast feeding is beneficial both for the mother and the infant. Some of the health benefits of breastfeeding are briefly described below:
Nutritional value: It is established that breast milk is by far the best source of nourishment for babies up to 6 months and hence they are kept strictly on milk diet. It is easily digestible and prevents the young ones against constipation and various infectious diseases.
Safer Than Cow’s Milk: Breast milk does not cause allergy as may be caused by cow’s milk in some infants.
Health benefits of breast feeding
Prevention against Ear and Asthma Infections: According to National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, milk present in mother’s milk forms a layer over baby’s throat and nose thereby preventing them from ear and asthma infections.
Boosting Gastrointestinal Immunity: Breast milk protects the baby from gastrointestinal disease by enhancing the immune system of Gastro Intestinal Tract (GIT).
Increased Intelligence: Various studies have shown that breast milk contains certain fatty acids that are part of brain. These have been proved to contribute to the intelligence in breastfed infants as compared to those with other source of nourishment.
Uterus Contraction: Due to the sucking action of the infant, a hormone is produced in the mother causing contraction of her uterus.
Reduced Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer in Mother’s: It is also an established fact that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in the mother.
Less Blood Loss during Menstruation: Various studies have reported that lactation causes reduction in the volume of blood flow during menstrual cycles after delivery. This is advantageous to the mother as she is in a recovering phase after delivery.
Bone Remineralization: The mothers are benefited by deposition of calcium after delivery to replenish the calcium levels during lactation.
Reduced Post Menopausal Hip Fractures: Some studies have shown that ladies which feed their babies with breast milk have low chances of hip fractures that occur after menopause.
Emotional Strength: It is a natural phenomenon that while breast feeding, the baby and mother are tied with each other emotionally and the infant also gains a security with his or her mother, being close to her.
It has been found in various studies that compared to a baby fed with any other milk, the breast fed infant has increased protection against leukemia, high blood pressure, type I diabetes and obesity. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, breast feeding decreases the occurrence of diarrhea, bacterimia, botulism, urinary tract infection, meningitis and allergic diseases.