Tips & advice on pregnancy, parenting, child care and development.
The benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. It helps in the growth and development of the baby and decreases the risk of illnesses and diseases. Studies have shown that breastfeeding is beneficial to the mother’s health. Here are some of the important benefits offered by breast-feeding.
To the Baby:
1. Protection form sickness and germs that cause infection – The antibodies passed from a nursing mother to her baby helps in lowering the occurrence of many conditions such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections and meningitis. Formula-fed babies fall sick more often than breast-fed babies.
2. Contributes to the baby’ immune system – Breast milk acts as a barrier towards infections and helps in reducing the growth of organisms like bacteria and viruses. Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for premature babies.
3. Protects from preventable illnesses – Diabetes (Types 1 and 2), obesity and Leukemia/Lymphoma are all proven to be reduced in exclusively breastfed babies.
4. Nourishment for growth and development – Breast milk contains essential nutrients such as Vitamins and Minerals that is required for the growth and development. Formula milk are yet to identify the more complex substances present in breast milk.
5. Ease of Digestion – The component of breast milk such as lactose, protein (whey and casein) and fat are easily digested by newborn’s immature system.
6. Prevents allergies – Four months of breastfeeding can delay or prevent food allergies, asthma, eczema and other atopic diseases.
To the Mother:
1. Reduce risk of metabolic syndrome – recent study confirms that breastfeeding reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome (a combination of health disorders that increase the risk of diabetes and heart diseases). Metabolic syndrome affects up to 37 percent od the US women between the ages of 20 and 59.
2. Maternal blood loss is reduced – breast-feeding has proven to reduce maternal blood loss at the time of delivery and helps the uterus shrink back down to size.
3. Decreases risk of breast cancer – The longer a mother breast-feeds the lower her risk of breast cancer.
4. Decreases risk of ovarian cancer – During lactation, a woman’s estrogen levels are lower. Studies have shown that if less estrogen is available to stimulate the lining of the uterus, the risk of these tissues becoming cancerous is also lower.
5. Lower risk of osteoporosis – Calcium levels can be lower while breastfeeding, but researchers have shown that after a mother has finished breastfeeding her bone density increases higher than a mother who has not breastfed.
6. Promotes weight loss - Breastfeeding mothers tend to lose weight faster than non-breastfeeding mothers.
7. Improves emotional health – Breastfeeding moms show less postpartum depression than formula feeding mothers. It releases hormones into the mother’s body that help her relax.
8. Pocket friendly – More money can be saved while a mother breastfeeds as compared to formula feeding.