Breastfeeding is the strongest foundation block for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of your child. Breast milk is unique to the growth requirements of the human baby like aiding brain growth, easy to digest sugar and protein, hence the other animal milk should not be given in the first one year of life. Some of the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers are:
Enables mothers to lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy, for example, approximately mothers at least spend 600 kcal/ day during exclusive breastfeeding
The oxytocin released when your baby nurses help your uterus contract, reducing post-delivery blood loss. Plus, breastfeeding will help your uterus return to its normal size more quickly—at about six weeks postpartum, compared with 10 weeks if you don’t breastfeed.
Lower risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer
Breastfeeding causes the release of prolactin, which keeps estrogen and progesterone at bay so ovulation isn’t triggered hence there is no menstruation during lactation and it is also an effective method of contraception.
Lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis or weak bones because during pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is more absorption of calcium into bones.
Mothers feel fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while nursing. These feelings are augmented by the release of hormones, such as oxytocin
and prolactin during breastfeeding.
Cheap and best for your baby
Benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to baby:
Custom made milk that is clean, sterile, warm, ready-made, no preparation needed. The breast milk is different at different times, like preterm baby’s milk has more calories, colostrum or initial milk has immunity factors, hindmilk that comes in the latter half of feeding is rich in fat aiding weight gain.
Breastfed babies are healthier with less diarrhoea, pneumonia and infections.
There is less risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Less chance of overweight and chronic conditions such as type I diabetes, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
Good bonding and emotional nurture
Easy to digest, less constipation and tummy pain/colic
Better intelligence and less risk of allergy when compared to formula fed babies
Commonly heard complaints detrimental to successful exclusive breastfeeding are no milk, not enough milk, mother not well, not optimally fat, etc. There are only a few absolute maternal conditions where breastfeeding should not be done like psychosis, anti-cancer treatment, anti-thyroid medications in all other maternal illnesses mothers can breastfeed. If there are engorgement and swelling in the breast, milk should be expressed and breastfeeding to be continued. God has destined all mothers to breastfeed, there are no actual low milk states, breast milk
is produced when the baby suckles at the breast, releasing a hormone in the brain which causes milk to let down, so demand is very important for production. Mothers can have all hygienically produced food and be careful during illnesses to take medicines safe for lactation.
Dr. Divya Srirangarajan,
Paediatrician & Paediatric Emergency Care Specialist