When my wife was pregnant, we have decided to let our first baby to go on breast milk. Though my wife did not have enough milk for the baby’s need and we have to do mixed feeding with infant milk, I will still think breast feeding should be the first choice for babies. I have spent some time doing research on the net on the good and bad about breast feeding and here is what I have compiled.
Advantages of Breast Feeding – Top 12 Benefits
- Breast milk contains many nutrients. The nutrients in the breast milk change over time automatically to provide what the baby needs. It has antibodies that help protect your baby from infections. If the baby is born pre-term, breasts milk will have a different composition, specifically suited for a premature infant. In fact, for premature babies, breast milk can make the difference in life and death.
- The first milk which the mother produces, called colostrum, is the best food for a newborn. This yellowish pre-milk substance carries more antibodies and rich in protein as well as zinc. It also acts as a laxative to purge the newborn’s bowels from waste accumulated during the time in uterus.
- Even after first few days, breast milk still is a great immune boosters. Feeding mother delivers millions of living white blood cells to baby to help fight off diseases. Commercial formulas have tried for ages to reproduce these ingredients and are coming quite close, though the exact combination cannot be duplicated. Breastfed babies may be less likely to have urinary and respiratory tract infections, skin problems, tooth decay, diarrhea, asthma, diabetes, obesity, childhood caners (such as leukemia) and anemia.
- Even more amazing, if a baby contracts an illness that mom has not been exposed to previously, he will transfer this organism through his saliva to the breast, where antibodies are manufactured on site and then sent back to baby via the milk to help him cope
- Fats in breast milk are self-digesting because the milk contains enzyme lipase which breaks down the fat. Fat is the main source of calories for babies. Babies need lots of calories for growth. The calorific value of breast milk is about 70 per 100 ml of milk and this amount has met the requirements of the infant. Furthermore, fat in human milk has large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which are important for brain development.
- Protein in breast milk is mostly whey which is easier to digest than casein found in cow’s milk.
- Talking about digestion, baby’s delicate digestive system is still immature. So, the easier the milk can be broken down, the more minerals and nutrients will be absorbed. With better digestion and natural laxative effect, baby suffers less from constipation.
- Breast fed baby tend to follow her appetite demand and therefore reduce the chance of overeating and becoming over weight.
- I know some babies do not like formula milk and the parents have to keep changing the brands. However, I have never know that any baby who does not like breast milk. Babies accept the taste naturally. Baby develops in the mother’s body and thus the chemical constitution of the breast suits the baby more than formula milk. My baby girl cried every time my wife tried breast feeding her. Initially, we thought she did not like the taste, but later realized it is the way she was being carried that made her uncomfortable. Once my wife managed to carry her in a more relaxed pose, she just loves it.
- It is much convenient. Imagine every time you bring the baby out, you need to prepare bottle, formula, warm water as well as cold water. On the other hand, Mother’s milk is easily available, uncontaminated and come in just nice temperature for the baby’s need. You do not have to sterilize the bottles, wash the bottle nipples, boil hot water and warm the leftover milk because breast milk come in “natural container” with the right temperature.
- Formula fed babies tend to have bad jaw alignment and more likely to need orthodontic work as they get older whereas breast fed babies have better development of facial muscles and the shape of palate.
- Breast milk is much cheaper. You do not have to spend on buying bottles and formula. However, bear in mind that you may still need to invest in nursing bra, nursing pads, nursing cover and probably a breast pump if you plan to express milk. My wife bought an electronic Medela Freestyle double breast pump.
- For mother, breastfeeding creates a surge of hormones in mother’s body. It helps shrinking uterus. It also helps you to lose some pregnancy weight because your body burns calories to produce breast milk. If the frequency of breast feeding is as much as 6 times a day, one can burn at least 500 calories. My wife took about 6 weeks to lose about 10 kilogram ever since she started breast feeding.
- Another important benefit is the valuable mother-baby bond. The eyes contact, skin to skin contact, cuddling and talking time creates a wonderful moment between mother and baby.
- When mother breastfeeds baby, the body produces milk making hormone which seems to produce a special calmness in mothers. In fact, breastfeeding mother have less stress because their babies are sick less.
- Mothers who breastfeed may be less likely to have type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, depression after pregnancy and osteoporosis.
- Furthermore, breastfeeding slows the fertility process. It helps you to space out your next baby. Having said that, breastfeeding is not the guarantee that you will not get pregnant, just that it reduces the chance.
Things To Be Aware of with Breastfeeding
- I believe that you probably have stopped smoking or drinking coffee, tea and alcohol throughout the pregnancy. If you breastfeed your baby, you should continue with these restrictions.
- Some mothers are comfortable to breastfeed in public whereas some are embarrassed to “dine out” and prefer to do it at home. So, you have to plan your outside trip in advanced so that you will ensure your baby is fed. Otherwise, get a nursing cover.
- Since breast milk is easier to digest for the baby, therefore it is normal that baby will want to eat more frequently (once every 2 to 3 hours) than if they were bottle fed. In turn, more diluted milk means more urine and lead to more diaper. Therefore, breastfeeding can be physically demanding for the mother.
- Some babies tend to suck the nipples with great force causing sore breasts and much discomfort for the mother.
- For mothers who go back to work, you will need a breast pump to collect the milk. In fact, it is difficult for a breastfeeding mother to leave her baby for more than a couple of hours because no one else can feed the baby unless she has left expressed milk.
- Some father may feel “left out” of baby care since mother is the only one who can do the nursing. However, he can be involved in helping with different aspects of the baby’s care, and this gives him a valuable feeling of importance and allows mother a chance to rest.
Normally, pediatricians recommend mothers to breastfeed babies exclusively for the first six months and then breastfeed with complementary foods for the next 12 months. Formula should always come in second place as best for your baby. My wife took about 2 weeks to feed our baby properly. Once the feeding was established, both the mother and baby find feeding easy and enjoyable. So, do not give up. Keep trying.
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