Health Benefits of Breast Feeding
The health benefits of breastfeeding are numerous. Breastfeeding acts as a nutritious diet for newborn children. 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 immunity, and increases intelligence.
Breastfeeding also aids in protection against diarrhea, bacterimia, botulism, urinary tract infection, meningitis, and allergic diseases in the infant and uterus contraction. It results in a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, aids with less blood loss during menstruation, bone remineralization, and a reduction in post-menopausal hip fractures in mothers.
Breastfeeding refers to the act of feeding an infant with a mother’s breast milk. The manner of nourishing the young one by mother’s breast milk is referred to as breastfeeding or nursing. It is the best source of food for the first months of the baby’s life, not only giving nutrition to the child, but also preventing it from various diseases and ailments. Breastfeeding is advantageous to the mother as well. The sucking action produces hormones that give relief from the pain of delivering the child.
Breastfeeding can be started immediately after delivery or after 4-5 hours of a Cesarean section procedure. The milk that 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 vitamins or juice can replace it in terms of an ideal diet. Breastfeeding can be done for two years or more. It not only provides nourishment to the child, but also gives relief to the mother’s pain after her delivery. Normally, the infants should be breastfed 10 to 12 times per day with an average of 12 to 14 minutes on either 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 a mother takes illegal drugs, then 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 breastfeeding 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, which is why they are traditionally kept strictly on a 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 allergies as may be caused by cow’s milk in some infants.
Health Benefits of Breast Feeding
Prevention Against Ear and Asthma Infections: According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, milk present in mother’s milk forms a layer over the baby’s throat and nose, thereby preventing them from ear and asthma infections.
Boosting Gastrointestinal Immunity: Breast milk protects the baby from gastrointestinal diseases by enhancing the immune system of the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT).
Increased Intelligence: Various studies have shown that breast milk contains certain fatty acids that are part of healthy functioning of the brain. These have been proven to contribute to intelligence in breastfed infants as compared to those with other sources of nourishment.
Uterus Contraction: Due to the sucking action of the infant, a hormone is produced in the mother, causing the contraction of her uterus.
Reduced Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer in Mothers: 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 a 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 Re-mineralization: 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 women who 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. The infant also gains security with his or her mother by being close to her.
It has been found in various studies that compared to a baby fed with any other milk, the breastfed infants have increased protection against leukemia, high blood pressure, type I diabetes, and obesity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding decreases the occurrence of diarrhea, bacterimia, botulism, urinary tract infections, meningitis, and allergic diseases.