From the day you conceive your baby up to two years of their life; or in other words, the initial 1000 days of the life of your baby are extremely critical for their development and growth. And that is why it’s important that a conducive environment is provided to them so that the right foundation gets built to support their health throughout life. And one of the most important contributors to this favourable environment would be breast milk. Breastfeeding your baby is an amazing way to guarantee that they receive the right nutrition. It’s a complete food for infants and contains all important nutrients required for a baby’s growth and development. Not just that, breastfed babies also have a better immunity as compared to those fed on packaged milk.
The World Health Organization and other similar health organizations recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least six months of their life, although breastfeeding for up to two years or more than that could fetch a higher number of benefits for the baby. Breastfeeding has amazing long-lasting advantages not just for the baby but also the mother.
What you need to know about breast milk—
The best thing about breast milk is that it is easy to digest and provides the perfect balance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and other nutrients required for the healthy growth and development of a baby. You need to note here that the composition of breast milk changes as an infant grows so that their growing need for nutrition can be adequately met. Some of the most valuable ingredients of breast milk are cytokines, which are proteins responsible for the formation of immune system and cell communication; long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids responsible for the nervous system, eye’ and brain development; oligosaccharides which are special carbohydrates required for the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract; growth factors; hormones; antibacterial properties; probiotics; white blood cells and antibodies. Not just these, breast milk is a rich source of many other valuable nutrients.
If you want to offer tailored nutrition to your baby, then breastfeeding them would be the best bet. Besides, it is a readily available source of nutrition for an infant and doesn’t cost the mother anything. However, it’s important to note here that the benefits of breast milk are not just confined to its economic nature and ready availability. Breast milk is, in fact, a super food for your baby.
Benefits for the baby—
Studies reveal that there are hundreds of different benefits that a baby can reap from feeding on breast milk. Some of these benefits are—
- Reduced sudden infant death syndrome rates.
- It also decreases the rate of post neonatal infant mortality.
- The risks of diseases like food allergies, asthma and eczema in the later phases of life decrease considerably.
- Babies that are breastfed also show satisfactory cognitive development.
- Breast milk also reduces the risks of infectious diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis, bacteraemia, urinary tract infection, respiratory tract issues, ear infections, pneumonia, and diarrhoea.
- Breast fed babies also have good oral health and have reduced chances of suffering from teeth alignment problems.
- Breastfed children are also at lower risks of developing serious diseases such as lymphoma, leukaemia and type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
- Babies who feed on breast milk also have lower chances of becoming obese later in life.
- An interesting benefit that a baby can reap is the flavours of the food you consume. Yes that’s right, and this might become a reason to believe that your baby will become a more adventurous eater later in life when they start to eat solids or even beyond that.
Benefits for the mother—
It’s important to note here that babies alone don’t reap the advantages of breastfeeding, even mothers are exposed to a lot of benefits. Some of them have been discussed here. Read on—
- Breastfeeding allows you to grow a deep bond with your baby. It’s not that the mothers who feed their babies formula milk are less attached to them, it’s just that breastfeeding allows mothers to build the connection in a different way, by being a source of nutrition for the baby, which in and of itself is a rewarding experience.
- When you breastfeed your baby, your body produces antibodies and releases them into the milk you produce. Milk with antibodies can help your baby in numerous ways. They will stay healthy, and even if they fall will, they will be able to recover fast.
- Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer. You will also be at a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
- Breastfeeding makes it far easier to feed the baby. Breast milk is a ready source of nutrition, and it needs no preparation. On the other hand, preparing formula milk is literally a chore and takes a considerable amount of time.
Now that you know how breastfeeding can be beneficial to your baby and yourself, there is no reason why you should stay away from it. Also, with a blood test for breast milk, you will be able to know about the quality of your milk so that you can decide whether to breastfeed or not.