What makes breast milk best for the babies?
World Breastfeeding Week: A lot has been said why mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively for at least six months. Here are the reasons for doing so.
Dr Anu Sridhar
Breastfeeding is a natural process and nature’s gift for mothers to make their children healthy. Since ages, the importance and benefits of breastfeeding on the mother and child have been communicated and been passed over generations. It is one of the purest things that bonds the mother and the baby eternally. Not only this, but the babies are protected from various health risks which could affect them as infants. Breast milk contains antibodies, which help the baby to fight against numerous health conditions, isn’t that amazing to know how precious breast milk is? But in recent times due to the busy schedule and work-life, mothers tend to give formula milk to their babies which are not as effective as breast milk. Mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively for at least six months so that they stay healthy.
So knowing these 10 things can help you understand the importance of breast milk for mothers and babies.
Fewer reasons to visit the paediatrician:
A baby who is fed only on breast milk will have fewer reasons to visit a paediatrician as the baby is going to be less prone to health risks, such as diarrhoea, ear infections and digestive problems. It is believed that babies who breastfeed are the ones who grow into healthier adults with a lesser risk of diabetes, eczema and even obesity.
Makes the baby healthy:
Breast milk has ample amount of lactose, protein, fat and water that can be easily digested by a newborn’s delicate system. This is found in higher incidence when compared to babies who are on formula feed. Also as mothers tend to consciously eat nutritious food during breastfeeding phase, the little one has a direct intake of nutrients through breast milk.
Builds a beautiful bond between the mother and the baby:
Babies love the warm touch and close contact with the mother. This period of breastfeeding can nurture the baby and enrich the baby who feels as comfortable as he or she was in the womb. It is also a soothing phase for the mother who gets to be in close with the baby.
There is no need to carry bottles, formula, think of hygiene, sterilization for bottles. All you need is a wrap and you can comfortably breastfeed anywhere which means greater convenience.
Formula milk does not come cheap but breast milk can be sourced anywhere anytime without a price. The WHO predominantly advises breast milk as the only diet for the six months of a baby’s life with no other substitute.
Reduces the risk of SIDS:
There is enough research to suggest that the sudden infant death syndrome, also known as cot death is less common in breast-fed babies because they are provided with a good amount of nutrition as compared to bottle-fed babies.
Helps in managing mother’s weight:
As most of the mothers worry about losing weight, it’s interesting to know that through breastfeeding the process of managing and losing weight becomes far easier when a mother breastfeeds her baby.
Makes mothers less prone to depression:
Postpartum depression, a symptom that is less seen among many new mothers is relatively lesser in mothers who breastfeed their babies. This is perhaps due to the right hormones released due to breastfeeding and lets the mother be happy.
Lesser loss of blood in mothers:
In response to baby’s sucking, the mother’s body releases a hormone that makes her uterus contract and gets smaller which results in less bleeding.
Lowers breast cancer risk:
Studies have shown that breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for a longer duration until the baby turns two years of age.
Knowing all the benefits and importance of breastfeeding, all the mothers should breastfeed their babies at least until they are six months old and after that, they can continue breastfeeding with a combination of some solid food. One should not compromise on it as it is a matter of your baby’s health and you need to protect them with good health.
(Dr Sridhar is Consultant, Obstetrician And Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru)