Benefits of breastfeeding are far more than just basic nutrition. It is also packed with disease fighting substances that protect your baby from illness. Although it is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of your baby's life any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial. Breast milk contains all the vitamins and nutrients that a baby needs in the first 6 months of life.
Some of the most important benefits of breastfeeding are:
- A healthier baby: colds, viruses and pneumonia are less likely to occur in breastfed babies. Diarrhoea, which can be devastating in babies, is also less likely to occur.
- Protection: Breastfed babies have less risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and Crohn's disease.
- Lower SIDS risk: Sudden infant death syndrome is reduced by about half in breastfed babies.
- Reduce risk of cancer: breastfeeding reduces a baby's risk of some childhood cancers. It also reduces the risk of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the mum.
- Free contraception: if you breastfeed every four hours and your baby is breastfed exclusively breastfeeding is 98-99% effective as a birth control option.
- It's so easy: Milk is ready for baby instantly and at the right temperature - you don't need to still make the milk and wait for it to cool so you can save on time.
- Save pounds: you don't have to spend a fortune on formula
- Strong bones: Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of having postmenopausal osteoporosis. When a woman is breastfeeding, her body absorbs the calcium much more efficiently. Some bones particularly those in the spine and hips may be less dense at weaning but six months later they become stronger than they were even before pregnancy.
- Post-delivery recovery: When you are nursing your body releases oxytocin which helps your uterus contract to its normal size quicker than if you were not breastfeeding.
Things to consider when breastfeeding:
- Remember any new skill takes time to learn and master. When you start breastfeeding it is a new experience for you and your baby so be patient, relax and it will become better and easier with time. Practice makes everything easier and eventually perfect.
- It may take longer for some mums and might be quicker for others to get the grip on breastfeeding so don't compare yourselves to others - follow your instinct and do what works for you. If you need to compliment your breastfeeding with some formula that is fine because some breast milk is better than none.
- Also, don't ask too many people for advice - find one person to work with else you will get overwhelmed with the conflicting views.
- If breastfeeding hurts it is not right - make sure your baby is latched on correctly so it is a pleasant experience for you and your baby.
There are many celebrities who have breastfed their babies and actually loved doing it. Alyssa Milano, Penelope Cruz, Gwen Stephani and Kourtney Kardashian are some who have breastfed. Penelope and Kourtney are known to have loved it so much that they actually missed doing it when they stopped.
The importance of breastfeeding is being recognised globally. WABA - the world alliance for breastfeeding action are aiming to achieve sustainable goals by linking each of these goals to breastfeeding They believe that breastfeeding is not the only cornerstone of a child's healthy development but rather also the foundation of a country's development.
World breastfeeding week is in the first week of August and this year will be its 25th year running. It is celebrated every year to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. They promote that by recognizing breastfeeding is a key to sustainable development people will value other's wellbeing from the start of life, respect each other and care for the world we all share.
So, to summarize - breast is best for you and your baby because it reduces your baby's risk of infections, diarrhea, SIDS, childhood illness such as leukemia and diabetes, obesity and later cardiovascular disease in adulthood. It benefits mum by lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity and it is the foundation of a country's and in turn the world's development.