World Breastfeeding Week (first week of August every year) is aimed at encouraging mothers to breastfeed their children, as a sole food source, at least for the first six months of the baby’s life.
However, some new mothers have low levels of breast milk or don't have enough to meet the baby's nutritional requirements. Doctors then suggest a combination of formula and breast milk, or even just formula. It is all dependant on individual situations. However, there are definite benefits for you and your little one when you breastfeed.
For the little one
The pre-milk produced when you deliver is different from regular breast milk. It is full of antibodies to protect your new-born baby from viruses, infections and other microbes. After three to four days, full milk is produced which has more calories and is best for promoting your baby’s growth and development. The milk adjusts its nutrients and creaminess based on what your child needs at each stage of development.
2. Decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is also known as cot death or crib death and involves the unexplained death of a baby younger than a year. SIDS usually occurs during sleep and is very traumatic for the family as well because the reason for death is not discovered. Breast-feeding is considered to significantly reduce the risk of SIDS in infants.
3. Decreased risk of cancers and diseases
Breast milk reduces risk of childhood cancers and diseases like diabetes, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, respiratory illnesses and many others. This shows that breastfeeding as an infant protects your child in the long-term as well.
4. Health and Immunity
Among breastfed babies, the incidence of colds, viral fevers, pneumonia and diarrhoea is significantly less. They also have reduced risk of skin disorders, obesity and intestinal issues. Breast milk is the best medicine you can give your baby for pain or sickness.
5. Bonding and emotional requirement
Breastfeeding your baby is a time of bonding that cannot be replaced by anything else. Also, unlike for a measured bottle of milk or formula, you are biologically more tuned to your baby’s needs. The physical comfort and closeness that the baby receives is as important as the nutritional benefit of breastfeeding.
For the new Mama
6. Post-delivery healing
Breastfeeding will speed up the contraction of your uterus reducing discomfort and blood loss if any. It will also help your uterus return to normal size in six weeks post-delivery; without breastfeeding it might take longer than 10 weeks.
7. Any time supply
The best part about breast milk is that it is readily available for your baby with the right nutrients and antibodies, at the right temperature and is protected from bacteria. It reduces stress and also gives you better sleep with less feeding ‘arrangements’ like heating the bottle or choosing the right kind and brand of formula.
8. Lose that baby weight
You can burn up to 400 calories when your child gets 20 ounces (approximately 600 ml) of your breastmilk per day. Using the deficit calories formula and healthy eating, this should help you lose all the extra weight you gained during your pregnancy. Dieting is not recommended during breastfeeding and, as you can see, you don't even need it as breastfeeding is doing the job for you.
9. Lower risk of cancers
Women who have breastfed their children have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancer. According to a 2002 study by Sir Richard Doll, a celebrated physiologist, a woman cuts her risk of breast cancer by 4 per cent with every year of breast feeding.
10. Save money
Formula, pacifiers, bottles and all the paraphernalia required for feeding comes with hefty price tags. Not to mention, as mothers are, anything less that the best for their baby is not even considered. So, save money until your little tot is ready to be weaned because you already have the best nutrition you can give him or her.