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Breastfeeding, also called nursing, is the act of feeding babies with breast milk. It is an essential role new mothers play to ensure their newborns grow in health. Breastfeeding is, however, not a widespread practice. Some parents may prefer formula or other baby food over breastmilk.
The World Health organization and several medical experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months. This recommendation comes on the back of the immense benefits of breastfeeding (adequately covered in this post).
According to WHO, “breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life.”
Benefits of breast milk for mom and baby
1. breast milk provides essential nutrients
Newborn babies require essential nutrients to aid growth, boost health, and strengthen their immune systems. The best way to achieve this for your baby is through breastfeeding.
Breast milk contains all the right nutrients in the right proportions for your baby. These essentials include vitamins, fats, and proteins – you won’t get as much quality from any artificially made baby food.
2. Breast milk helps to maintain healthy baby weight
Did you know that breast milk helps promote healthy weight gain? It does. Studies have shown that breastfeeding for more than four months helps significantly in preventing obesity in children.
How does this happen exactly? Breast milk contains larger amounts of beneficial gut bacteria, which puts a check on fat storage.
Also, when you consistently breastfeed your baby, there is a buildup of leptin in their system. Leptin is a hormone that helps to inhibit hunger, which helps to diminish fat storage in adipocytes.
3. Breastfeeding will speed up uterus contraction
When you are pregnant, the uterus grows big. And after you deliver your baby, the uterus’ size begins to reduce to its original size. This process is called involution.
There is a hormone that helps with involution; it is called oxytocin. Oxytocin helps during pregnancy, helps to deliver your baby, and also boosts bonding with your mini-you.
When you start breastfeeding, oxytocin increases even more. It helps the uterus contract and reduces bleeding.
So, if you want faster uterus contraction and reduced blood loss, you might want to consider breastfeeding your baby.
4. Breast milk contains essential antibodies
Babies are fragile. It is evident by how small they are in size. This is not only true about their physical size but also their resistance to foreign elements.
The culprits here are viruses and bacteria. Being fragile makes your baby susceptible to any of these infections. But, breast milk can help prevent them.
Breast milk contains vast amounts of antibodies that help your baby to keep these infections away. As a mother, those antibodies are produced when you’re exposed to viruses and bacteria, and your breast milk gets an ample supply of these helpful forces.
Unsurprisingly, you can’t get this level of protection by feeding your baby with formula. This study shows that babies who are not breastfed are more likely to suffer from more health issues.
It is possible to be overwhelmed by what you hear about breastfeeding, especially if you’re a new mom. So much that it makes you wonder if breastfeeding is even worth it. In this section, we will separate the myths from the facts.
Myth 1: Breastfeeding is not best for babies
You will most likely hear this from people who did not breastfeed their babies. Women who choose formula instead of breast milk tend to think this way. But, is there any truth to what they say? Well, none at all.
Studies have shown that breast milk has immense protective benefits – some are short-term, and others are long-term. Breast milk certainly provides the best nutrition for babies.
Myth 2: Formula is an excellent alternative to breast milk
It’s impossible to compare baby formula to breast milk. Your breast milk is natural, fresh, and custom-made for your baby. It contains all the essential anti-viruses and antibodies to keep your baby safe from harmful infections. Plus, babies have an easier time digesting breast milk than formula. Do you see how different breast milk and formula are?
Myth 3: Breastfeeding works for some people
Absolutely not. Yes, it may take a while for a new mom to adapt to breastfeeding, but with some effort and the right support, it’s possible to get it done successfully. If you find yourself at this point, don’t stress; give it time and practice until it becomes second nature. See these helpful tips for new breastfeeding moms.
Myth 4: The size of your breast can make it difficult to breastfeed
It doesn’t matter whether you have small or big breasts; all breast sizes can produce all the milk your baby needs. Of course, the size of your nipples isn’t a problem either. If you face any difficulty with your baby latching on, a breast counsellor can help you find a position or style that works for you.
Myth 5: Don’t breastfeed if you’re having twins
Think about it this way; if your body can carry twins for nine months and deliver them, indeed, it can support them with breast milk. The only challenge may be deciding on whether to feed them at the same time or one at a time. Find what works for you, and again, the right support comes in handy here, especially from family.
Breastfeeding is by far the best diet and nutrition you could give to your baby. It is natural, it fresh, and best of all, it is nutrient-dense. More so, it creates an avenue for new moms to bond with their babies. Don’t pass off this chance to give your little one all of these and more. It may take some getting used to, but it will grow on you with the right support and practice.