Who is not familiar with breastfeeding? Majority of the mothers breastfeed their babies. Currently, some mothers are feeding their babies with formulas and supplements. We will explore that either breastmilk is preferable or formulas and supplement can replace it. We will try to answer different questions like:
- What is breastfeeding
- Is breastfeeding necessary?
- How breast milk is preferable to formulas and supplements?
- What are the benefits of breastfeeding for the babies and moms?
- How much a mom should feed breast milk?
- What are the benefits of breast milk?
What Is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a natural process to nourish a baby with breast milk after birth. It is the primary source of nutrition for infants and is recommended by health professionals worldwide. Mothers feed their babies for a specific period until the baby is able to chew or digest hard foods. Sometimes, it is known as nursing. Breast milk contains ideal nutrition and supports the healthy growth of a baby.
Breastfeeding Before Artificial Formulas and Supplements/ Juices
Before the advent of artificial formulas and supplements, breastfeeding was the sole method of nourishing infants. All mammals feed their babies with natural milk because there is no alternative to this feed. When we dive deep into back eras, we come to know that when a mother was unable to feed her baby, few women in that society were asked to feed a baby. Though, sometimes for free as a good gesture, and sometimes this baby feed was paid. In the Medieval Ages, and up to the modern era, still in some places, mothers feed their babies with milk of goat that is also light and healthy for babies. Grownup babies still drink cows’ milk.
Why Artificial Formulas and Supplements/Juices are Popular These Days?
With scientific advancements, laboratories became able to identify ingredients/elements/vitamins in each food and tried to make artificial foods that contain the same ingredients and vitamins that a baby needs. These products are easily available in the market all the time. Due to easy access and availability, people choose artificial products that are certified by laboratories. With the establishment of colonies, people moved from the countryside and villages to cities where they cannot get goat milk to feed their babies. Modern lifestyles and societal pressures accelerated the popularity of artificial formulas and supplements. Moreover, companies who make these products, advertise in this way that people become convinced to feed their babies artificial foods. While they serve as alternatives, they lack the complete nutritional profile and health benefits that breast milk offers.
How Much Time a Mother Should Breastfeed Her Baby?
Most healthcare professionals recommend feeding a baby with breast milk for at least 6 months or longer. Breast milk contains a full nutrition pack that a baby needs during the first 6 months. A mother should start feeding her baby with breast milk soon after birth. Child nutritionists recommend starting breastfeeding as early as one hour after birth. Because first feed has enormous benefits. Just after the birth of a baby, breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum. It is high in protein, low in sugar, and loaded with beneficial compounds that are not replaceable with artificial formulas. There is no replacement in the world for the first milk of the mother. A mother should feed her baby until he/she starts digesting hard foods/organic foods/fruits.
The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old or longer until a mother can feed her baby. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. According to APP, breastfeeding should be continued even after solid foods are introduced, until at least age 1 year or until both mom and baby agree to call it quits. According to the Islamic religion, a mother should feed her baby at two years at least.
Can a Mother Use Formula Instead of Breast-Milk?
While formula is a viable option, it cannot replicate the unique composition of breast milk. Formulas are never the perfect replacement for breast milk. There are a lot of benefits of breast milk and one should feed her baby with breast milk. Breastfeeding is encouraged for its numerous health benefits for both the baby and the mother.
However, in some cases, healthcare consultants advise formulas for a specific reason. These reasons may include:
- If a mother has no or less breast milk as in cesarean cases when hormones do not create milk.
- When a mother has a disease that can transfer into a child through the feed.
- If a mother is too weak in health.
- Sometimes, a child has a specific disease, and the physician suggests something different in the shape of a formula.
- If mother-milk lacks vitamin D, Vitamin D drops are usually recommended.
- A doctor can suggest any other reason.
Why Breastfeeding is Necessary?
Breastfeeding is the first and basic right of a baby that is born in a lap of a mother. Breast milk is crucial for the overall health of the infant and the mother. It provides essential nutrients, boosts the baby’s immune system, and fosters a strong emotional connection. There is no food in the world that can replace a mother’s feed. Breastfeeding also helps protect babies and their mothers against multiple diseases.
Benefits of Breast Milk for the Baby
If a mother is reluctant to feed her baby with breast milk, she may be in danger twice: firstly, her own health can go at risk; secondly, her child can be the victim of health diseases. However, it is a personal preference to feed a baby with breast milk or with artificial foods but universal facts about the benefits of breastfeeding are still there. Let us go through all the benefits of breast milk.
Breast Milk Is an Ideal Nutrition for Babies
One of the main benefits of breast milk is that breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies. Breast milk has the right amount of nutrients. It contains a perfect balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates crucial for healthy growth and development. It is easy to digest than any other food. As a baby grows, breast milk changes its nutrition to what a baby needs according to age. Breast milk after one week of birth had different nutrients than breast milk after six months. Breast milk is softer than formulas to digest and break. Breast milk is perfectly tailored to meet the nutritional needs of infants.
Breast Milk Contains Important Antibodies
Breast milk is loaded with antibodies that help protect the baby from infections and diseases. This immune support is especially crucial during the early months of life when the baby’s own immune system is still developing. When a mother feeds her baby, all her antibodies move with her breast milk toward the baby which makes his immune system very strong. Colostrum (the first milk after birth: a thick and yellowish fluid) is full of antibodies. A formula does not provide antibodies or protection against early diseases for babies like colostrum.
Breast Milk Is an Ideal Nutrition for Babies
Breastfed babies have a lower risk of various diseases, including respiratory infections, ear infections, and gastrointestinal issues. It reduces your baby’s risk for diseases and improves the immune system. The antibodies in breast milk provide a protective shield against common illnesses. Some of the diseases are below and you can save your child from these diseases if you feed from your breast.
- Babies, who receive breastfeeding, may have a lower risk of getting serious colds and ear or throat infections compared to those babies who do not receive breastfeeding.
- Breast milk also reduces the chances of gut infections.
- Breastfeeding protects against the middle ear, throat, sinus infections, and respiratory tract infections. Breast milk also protects against respiratory and gastrointestinal acute diseases.
- Breast milk also reduces the risk of Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of childhood leukemia. Allergic diseases. Breastfeeding can be helpful for a baby against atopic dermatitis, eczema, and asthma.
- Babies who are breastfed may remain safe against the risk of developing (type 1) diabetes and non-insulin-dependent diabetes (type 2).
Breast Milk Promotes Healthy Weight Gain
Breastfed babies tend to gain a healthy amount of weight, reducing the risk of obesity later in life. The composition of breast milk supports optimal growth without the risk of overfeeding. Moreover, breastfeeding for a longer period (4-6 months) had a significant reduction in the chances of a baby developing overweight and obesity.
Breast Milk Improves a Child’s Smartness
Many kinds of research and studies have proven that a child who receives breast milk is smarter than those who are grown up with formulas. Breastfed infants may have a cognitive advantage, showing improved intelligence and academic performance later in life. Because the nutrient content of formulas cannot perfectly match breast milk and breast milk makes a child more active and smart.
Breast Milk Contains Good Temperatures
Mothers worry about how much temperature of liquid formulas should be. Because of different weathers, a child needs formulas boiled and cooled to a specific level. Sometimes, it gets too cool at some times it is a bit hot. It can cause severe risks to the health of the child. Breast milk is always the perfect temperature for the baby, whether it’s from the breast or pumped and stored. This eliminates the need for warming and ensures the baby’s comfort during feeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Moms
Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for babies but mothers receive equal health benefits by breastfeeding. A mother who breastfeeds her babies receives multiple health benefits. Some of the main benefits of breastfeeding for moms are below.
Breastfeeding Helps Uterus Involution and Reduces Blood Loss
During the last months of pregnancy, the uterus generally grows immensely and quickly. After delivery of the child, the uterus goes through a specific process known as involution. In this process, the uterus returns to its small size. Oxycontin is a hormone that increases during pregnancy to the birth of a baby. During birth, it reduces bleeding and pain. By breastfeeding, oxytocin increases and helps in the contraction of the uterus to its previous size. Many types of research have proven that mothers who breastfeed their babies generally have less blood loss after delivery and quick uterus involution.
Breastfeeding May Help You to Lose Weight
Majority of the women start gaining weight just after the birth of their baby. Some of them gain weight during pregnancy. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories, which can help them to lose the weight gained during pregnancy. Additionally, it helps the mother’s body return to its pre-pregnancy state by utilizing stored fat reserves. A mother, who feeds her baby with breast milk, burns 500 extra calories per day compared to mothers who do not feed breast milk.
Mothers’ Feed Reduces Depression
Mothers who feed their babies with breast milk also keep saving themselves from depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) generally develops among females shortly after childbirth. Breastfeeding produces naturally soothing hormones like Oxycontin and protactinium. These hormones promote stress reduction and positive feelings. A breastfeeding mother feels confident and remains content. Breastfeeding can support the wellness of the body, mind, and spirit of the whole family because no one has a duty to prepare formulas for the baby. A breastfeeding mother and her baby create a good bond of mutual harmony among them that leads to love and affection. This mutual harmony also leads to knowing about infants’ cues and babies learn to trust caregivers. This also helps to develop an infant’s early behavior.
Breastfeeding Reduces Disease Risk for the Mother
Breastfeeding seems to provide a mother with good protection against several diseases including cancer. The long time a mother feeds her baby, she receives more protection against the risks of breast diseases and ovarian cancer. Women who feed their babies with breastfeed have a lower risk for:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High blood fats
- Type-2 diabetes
Prevention in Ovulation and Menstruation
Exclusive breastfeeding can delay the return of ovulation and menstruation. This natural contraception method, known as lactational amenorrhea, provides a natural family planning option for breastfeeding mothers. The delay of menstrual cycles may actually be nature’s way of ensuring there is some time between pregnancies. This change as an additional benefit for breastfeeding mothers.
General Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is not a difficult task. However, if you are hesitating to feed or you or not aware of how to feed a baby, you can ask for tips from any trusted person.
Below are the tips to prepare oneself for breastfeeding. These tips are also known as the ABCs of breastfeeding.
- Get regular prenatal care and visit a gynecologist for opinions.
- Seek assistance from lactation consultants, healthcare providers, or support groups if needed.
- Discuss your plan to breastfeed and ask for your diet that can improve your breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding can take time to master, be patient with yourself and the baby.
- Take a breastfeeding class before the birth of a baby.
- Find a comfortable breastfeeding position to ensure a positive experience for both mother and baby.
- Meet a lactation consultant and ask her to teach you breastfeeding basics.
- Learn the positions to feed a baby.
- A healthy diet and proper hydration support optimal milk production.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, breastfeeding is a natural and invaluable practice that provides numerous benefits for both infants and mothers. Its unique composition and the emotional connection it fosters make it the ideal choice for nurturing a healthy and happy baby. Mothers, armed with knowledge and support, can embark on their breastfeeding journey with confidence and reap the rewards of this age-old practice.