Importance of breastfeeding & benefits of breastmilk

The last trimester of pregnancy is a flush of love, emotions, care, and concern for all to-be-parents. The couple needs to be educated about what is right to do when the baby arrives. One of the first and most important awareness required at this time is about the importance of breastfeeding.

Though benefits of breastfeeding are explained to the new mothers by the elders of the family, some might still be skeptical about what to believe and what not to since there is so much to assimilate. Technology having been advancing every day, science has many baby formulae to fill the deficiency of breast milk. Having said that, till date, there is no man-made formula that can replace the need of breast milk for the newborn.

The baby understands its first demand-Hunger and is satiated with mother’s milk and touch. The first thick milk droplets that ooze when the mother starts lactating-called colostrum passes on the nutrition and the immunity that guards the baby for a lifetime. Sole breastfeeding at least for first six months and as a cover under which the semi-solids need to be introduced to the baby after six months is an important phase of parenting. Let us understand the importance of breastmilk to the baby and breastfeeding to the mother.

How breastfeeding benefits your baby?

  1. Breastmilk is a complete nutrition that your infant would solely need in its first six months of life.
  2. The composites of breastmilk ideally suit the baby’s digestive system and avoid any colic problems or diseases. Premature babies and babies with low birth weight have ideal nutrition pumped with extra nourishment that is nature’s mechanism to support steadier growth.
  3. Breastmilk contains antibodies against diseases such as gastroenteritis (flatulence/gas), common cold, urinary infections and drastically reduce the chances of infant life loss.
  4. Also, the occurrence of asthma (a lungs condition), eczema (a skin condition) during later stages of life and danger of leukemia and childhood diabetes during infancy are reduced.
  5. Fatty acids in the mother’s milk help the babies develop cognitive skills faster than the babies that are formula-fed or fed with external milk.
  6. Breast milk acts as a cover while you introduce new semi-solid foods to the baby and understand its dietary needs other than mother’s milk.
  7. Breastmilk maintains the body temperature and is free of many possible contaminations otherwise.
  8. Breastfed babies are generally calmer than the babies devoid of breastmilk.
  9. Babies that are breastfed for more than 6 months are most likely to develop regular eating habits when grown up.

How breastfeeding benefits you?

  1. Breastmilk is the first and easiest resort to soothe a crying baby. Breastfeeding is also the best way of calming the baby during or after immunization.
  2. Breastmilk is the easiest way to feed the baby without having to worry about cleaning paraphernalia used otherwise to feed alternate formula.
  3. Breastmilk is the only wholesome food that is available whenever the baby needs and is at the right temperature. Nature’s formula to take care of babies that are premature or low birth weight hence you could only worry about your healthy eating.
  4. Hormones released during breastfeeding helps you to come to terms with motherhood and releases love hormone towards the baby.
  5. Women need lactation and breastfeeding to help the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnant size.
  6. Lactating mothers get back to the pre-pregnancy weight and shape naturally through regular breastfeeding.
  7. Reduces risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer at later stages of life.
  8. Breastfeeding is the sole time with your baby out of any busy work otherwise, helping you have quality time with your younger one.
  9. Soiled nappies and the baby’s excreta doesn’t smell bad like that of the formula fed.
  10. No need to worry about the quality of the feed and sterilization every time the baby is hungry.

Storing Breast Milk

Expressing and storing away the breastmilk hygienically is a boon during a few situations. Breast milk can be stored up to 6 hours at room temperature and stays fresh under deep refrigeration up to 2 weeks. The quality and nutrient loss is negligible in stored breast milk. Storage of breast milk might be needed when-

  • Premature babies and babies with congenital problems or low birth weight might be kept under observation for an initial period, and be unavailable for breastfeeding when they need.
  • The newborns might also be lazy to suck from the mother for first few days.
  • Expression of milk during first few days could be less or painful for some mothers.
  • Some mothers might have excessive lactation. Instead of wasting milk, they could choose to store for the babies when needed.
  • Some mothers might have pressing emergencies in the family or career which might demand sometime during the day or week away from the newborn and breastmilk storage can be convenient.

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