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Why Is It Important To Breastfeed?

Choosing to feed their infant by breastfeeding is one of the very first decisions taken by mothers who are expecting to have a child. Doctors generally advise to breastfeed, breast milk having the capacity of offering to the infant the necessary antibodies to fight infections, and to prevent allergies as well as a high number of chronic diseases. More than this, pediatricians claim that in the first 6 months from a baby`s life, feeding has to only include breast milk, this remaining the main food until the 12th month at least.

Why Is It Important To Breastfeed

Table of Contents

Why Is It Important to Breastfeed?

Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for both mothers and babies. So, besides the fact that the infant will receive all the nutritional value that he needs, the connection created in these moments cannot be compared with anything else.

Preventing Infections

The antibodies found in breast milk helps the infant`s organism to prevent the appearance of any medical conditions, such as diarrhea, meningitis, and ear or respiratory infections.

Breast milk stimulates and boosts the immune system of the baby, and also reduces the capacity of the bacteria or viruses to develop. At the same time, breastfeeding is recommended for infants who were born through premature birth, also reducing the risk for any serious medical conditions such as asthma, obesity, allergies or diabetes.

Nutritional Value

Breast milk contains all the nutrients the baby requires in the first 6 months of life. The baby doesn`t require any food other than breast milk which is easy to digest.

Helps Digestion

Both colostrums (milk secreted immediately after birth) and mature breast milk includes antibodies which offer protection to the baby from diseases and infections, which include type 1 diabetes, enterocolitis, ear infections respiratory tract infections.

Although there are lots of companies that tried to reproduce breast milk artificially, the attempt wasn`t successful yet. Breast milk comes from a living tissue with lots of features that were designed to offer protection against specific illnesses, with fatty acids which encourage the nervous system development.

Breastfeeding Is Hygienic

If you feed your baby from your breast, you don`t really have to disinfect or sterilize your equipment. The only thing you need to do is to wash the breast pump at the end of the day. Between breastfeeding sessions or during breaks, the equipment will be kept in the fridge.

Breast Milk Adapts to the Baby`s Needs

Did you know that breast milk adapts itself after the baby necessities? Breast milk changes during breastfeeding: at first it`s somehow watery and satisfies thirst, and then comes the more creamy, full of fat milk which calms the baby`s hunger. Milk changes during the lactation period while the baby has less meals during the day.

Different Tastes

A mother who breastfeeds requires an additional of 500 calories per day, reason for which she will need to consume a large range of different food rich in nutritional value. This way, with breast milk the infant begins to experience different tastes specific to the food consumed by adults.

Additional Comfort to Parents

Mothers who breastfeed don`t need to go the local store to buy baby formula. In addition, breast milk is always fresh and doesn`t need to be stored in bottles.

Smarter Children

All the latest research has revealed that in most cases, babies fed by breastfeeding have a higher IQ level than those who received milk from baby formula.

Mother & Baby Bonding

Most mothers are enjoying breastfeeding especially because of the direct contact with her baby. In those moments there`s an emotional bond created between she and her baby.

Benefits to the Mother`s Organism

There aren`t only benefits for the infant`s organism when breastfeeding, but also for the organism of the mother as well because it stimulates the process of burning calories and restores the uterine cavity.

It`s Important to Breastfeed Right After Birth

Breastfeeding immediately after birth also offers lots of benefits to the mother, like less blood loss or improved lactation. Also, the yellow-white sticky substance that first comes out soon after birth, also known as colostrums, it`s very rich in important nutrients and antibodies.

How Can We Increase Breast Milk?

  • Make certain your baby is breastfeeding effectively.
  • Nurse your baby often, and for as long as he`s actively nursing.
  • “Nursing vacations” are always welcome. You may take your baby to bed with you for a couple of days, and don`t do anything else than nurse and rest.
  • Always offer both breasts with every breastfeeding session. You can even switch sides 3 or 4 times during each session. When your baby loses interest or falls asleep, switching to “comfort” sucking is always welcome.
  • Avoid milk bottles and pacifiers, if possible.
  • Offer your baby just breast milk. You should avoid offering him formula, solid food or water.

Why Breast Milk Is Better than Formula?

  • It offers natural antibodies which help the infant resist medical condition, like ear infections.
  • It`s generally digested more easily than formula. That`s why breastfed babies are frequently less gassy or constipated.
  • It might lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) in the first year of the life of your baby.
  • It might raise the intelligence of your child. Recent research has shown that breastfed babies have high cognitive function levels.
  • Breast milk might even help the child later, by decreasing the risk of developing asthma, high cholesterol, leukemia, lymphoma, type 1 & type 2 diabetes, Hodgkin`s disease, and decreasing the risk of being overweight.

How Long Do You Need to Breastfeed for Baby to Benefit?

The longer you breastfeed, the long-lasting and deeper are the benefits. That`s why AAP advises for exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of the baby`s life, and continued nursing for the entire first year, and even longer if the baby or mother wants so.

Latest research has proven that long-term nursing decreases the risk of obesity, specific types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes for life. The longer a baby is breastfed, the greater is his protection. New studies find new health advantages on a constantly basis.

How Long Does the Average Woman Breastfeed for?

The WHO and UNICEF have advised for more than a decade that mothers should breastfeed their babies for at least 2 years. However, most women in the United States who breastfeed stop before the baby reaches 6 months; lots of them don`t even start at all. How do other countries stay from this point of view?

Worldwide Breastfeeding Rates

Country % of mothers who start % who continue 6 months or longer
Sweden 98 53
Norway 98 50
Poland 93 10
Canada 80 24
Netherlands 68 25
Great Britain 63 21
U.S. 57 20

How Old Is Too Old to Breastfeed?

It`s pretty common nowadays for 4 or 5-year old children to still be nursed by mothers due to health or bonding reasons. The WHO advises nursing children up to 2 years, precisely due to benefits related to breast cancer prevention.

How Long Can a Woman`s Breasts Produce Milk?

There are women out there who think that if they keep pumping out milk, their body won`t stop producing milk. However, this isn`t really true! Women can go on breastfeeding for long periods of time, even years (in certain cultures, 4 – 6 years isn`t really something that extraordinary. But at some point, their production of milk will stop. The same thing happens when women hit menopause – al hormones that are involved in the breastfeeding process stop being made.

Image courtesy of stefanieaschultismd.com

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