Breastfeeding provides the best nutrition to babies. There are plenty of health benefits of breastfeeding for the baby as well as the mother. Antibodies, present in breast milk protect the baby from infections and chronic diseases.
What exactly is breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding refers to the practice of feeding your baby breast milk directly from your breast. It’s also known as nursing. Breastfeeding is the only baby food that nature has to offer to newborns.
Health experts strongly recommend that lactating moms breastfeed their newborn for the first 6 months (restricting the intake of water, juice, or even formula milk). They also suggest that weaning (which refers to the process to accustom the baby to other forms of food), can be started only after 6 months.
How to know if your child is hungry?
There are multiple cues your baby will give to indicate they are hungry. While the most common one is crying, it is essentially the most deceptive one too as the babies cry to milk and everything else. Here are a few signs to know that your baby is ready for breastfeeding.
Yes, as discussed, mostly the baby is crying for milk. The first thing you must do when you find your baby crying is to feed them. If they are hungry, they will start sucking and pacify themselves. However, if they are not taking milk, chances are they are crying for something else. (probably sleep, potty, urinating, etc)
Constantly licking their lips
Babies needing milk express their need by sticking their tongue out and constantly licking their lips
Sucking on different things
Hungry babies will begin sucking on anything they find around. It could very well be a toy or a towel etc.
This would mean that babies looking to be fed will move their jaw and head to look for your breast.
Another sign they give is by showing fussiness.
Sucking on their thumb
Babies start sucking on their fingers or thumb to show that they wish to be fed.
Benefits of breastfeeding for Babies
Today, I will tell you some amazing benefits of breast milk for babies:
1. Provides essential antibodies to the baby – benefits of breastfeeding for baby
Breast milk is high in antibodies that help your baby battle viruses and bacteria. This is a very important diet for your baby especially during the early months when he or she is vulnerable to infections.
According to a study, babies that are not breastfed are more prone to health problems such as pneumonia, diarrhea, etc.
2. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition -benefits of breastfeeding for baby
Breast milk is the first meal for the baby and provides the baby with all the nutrients in just the right amount. It has a nearly ideal balance of vitamins, proteins, and fat, giving your baby everything he or she needs to thrive.
Its composition changes with respect to the baby’s changing needs, particularly during the first 3 months of their life.
3. It eases the baby’s digestive system – benefits of breastfeeding for baby
The breast milk alternatives such as cow’s milk formula or soy milk formula contain proteins that are tougher to break down as compared to the mother’s breast milk. This is why breast milk is easy on the digestive system of the baby.
4. Breastfeeding can lower the risk of infection – benefits of breastfeeding for baby
It may lower your baby’s risk of developing a number of illnesses and diseases, such as ear infections, stomach problems, cough, cold infections, allergic diseases, diabetes, etc. In addition to this, mostly it is seen that breastfed babies have lesser hospitalizations and medical visits.
5. Breast milk helps the baby maintain a healthy weight – benefits of breastfeeding for baby
Breastfeeding maintains a balanced weight gain in children and helps to avoid obesity. This is due to the creation of new good bacteria in their gut. Breastfed babies have more good bacteria, which affects the storage of fat in their bodies.
Breastfed babies are known to control their milk intake as well.
6. Breastfeeding makes your baby smart – benefits of breastfeeding for baby
Although the research is still on and not concluded yet, however, it has been found that babies that are breastfed tend to have higher IQ levels than ones who aren’t. It is believed that the fatty acids in a mother’s breast milk help in boosting brain development.
Benefits of breastfeeding for Moms
7. Breast milk helps the mother maintain a healthy weight – benefits of breastfeeding for moms
Although some women seem to gain weight while breastfeeding, others appear to lose weight with ease. Breastfeeding will speed up your return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Breast milk production burns around 300 to 500 calories every day from your body. As a result, you can shed that extra weight by simply feeding your child.
Want to know more, check out how to lose weight after pregnancy.
8. Lowers the risk of some chronic diseases – benefits of breastfeeding for moms
It has been found that the ladies who breastfed their babies have a lesser risk of ovarian and breast-related problems.
9. It is effective and time-saving – benefits of breastfeeding for moms
Breastfeeding is the most effective option to feed the baby. You won’t have to spend time washing and disinfecting bottles, mixing and warming up bottles in the middle of the night (or day). Breast milk is maintained at an adequate body temperature and is readily available for the baby to consume.
10. Bonding with baby – benefits of breastfeeding for moms
The baby and mother share an eternal bond. The physical presence between the two, their skin-to-skin contact, and the heart-melting eye contact support your baby’s bonding and gives your baby a sense of security. An infant’s suckling releases the hormone oxytocin, which increases maternal love and aids in the development of relationships between mothers and their newborns.
Breastfeeding Tips from other moms
- The mother’s milk is produced in three phases. During the first few days, the breasts produce the first milk called ‘Colostrum’. This is thick yellow milk that contains plenty of nutrients a baby needs. The transitional milk is produced a few days after that. Finally, around the second week, the moms’ produce the mature milk which contains all the nutrients needed by the baby for the next few months.
- Most babies tend to lose weight during the first week of their birth and this has nothing to do with breastfeeding.
- Ensure that you keep your nursing garments handy.
- Regularly consult a friend who had breastfed. If needed you can join support groups too.
- Babies take about 10 to 20 minutes each time they are breastfed.
- Keep 2-3 pillows around yourself to adjust your arms, head, neck to set yourself in a comfortable position as you begin to breastfeed.
Best food for improving milk supply | Lactation Boosting Foods
- Fennel seeds
A few words from CityMom
There are numerous health benefits of breastfeeding for the baby and the mother because of which most health experts recommend this to all new mothers. There is no alternative or equivalent to breast milk and all mothers should consider breastfeeding their babies unless there are any complications.