Yes To Breastfeeding! Learn All The Benefits
The best feeding option on the whole planet is the one that begins with breastfeeding during the first hour of life. It’s a scientifically proven fact. Exclusive breastfeeding for six full months offers the baby the necessary nutrients and antibodies for their age. Believe it, there is nothing better!
The human body is so wonderful that a mother can satisfy her baby’s hunger by immediately breastfeeding them. This is not just a practical advantage, because evidence has accumulated over the last few decades about the health benefits of breastfeeding.
Now, after corroborating hundreds of studies, the World Health Organization (WHO) can affirm with complete certainty that breastfeeding reduces infant mortality and has health benefits that reach into adulthood.
In fact, the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life and thereafter reinforcement with complementary foods at least until two years. So do thousands of pediatricians in the world, moms and grandmothers. It is very unlikely that science and experience are wrong.
In order for mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, WHO and UNICEF recommend:
- Start breastfeeding during the first hour of life.
- Practice exclusive breastfeeding, that is, provide the infant with only breast milk, without other foods or drinks, not even water.
- Breastfeed when the child demands it, either day or night.
- Do not use bottles, teats or pacifiers.
Benefits of breastfeeding for both
Breastfeeding improves maternal health in the short and long-term; It can contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals to which many countries and agencies are committed, particularly those that aim to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
The advantages of breastfeeding are not only limited to numerical data and scientific evidence. Benefits also include love and pleasant moments shared between the mother and her baby, since breastfeeding requires the mother to spend some quiet time for her herself and her child.
This time helps them to strengthen their bond. Physical contact is important for newborns because it helps them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
Mothers who breastfeed may have greater self-confidence and feel closer and closer to their babies.
However, it must be taken into account that breastfeeding doesn’t guarantee that the relationship between mother and child will be adequate nor does the lack of breastfeeding make it impossible.
But when breastfeeding is enjoyed by both, it is a very positive reinforcement.
Breast milk prevents babies from suffering:
- Ear infections
- Stomach viruses
- Respiratory infections
- Atopic dermatitis
The most important and most visible benefits of breastfeeding consist of the immediate health and survival of the infant. The rates of diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, otitis media and other infections, as well as the deaths caused by these diseases, are lower in breastfed children than in those who are not.
-Pan American Health Organization-
Mom’s milk is enough
Breast milk differs from formula. Colostrum, the first thick, yellowish breast milk produced during pregnancy and immediately after delivery, will give your baby the best start in life.
Colostrum contains nutrients and antibodies that protect the baby when it reaches the world.
For most babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula. Babies’ stomachs delay in adapting to the digestion of the proteins present in formula, because these come from cow’s milk.
And do not worry about the amount of milk, although the baby only receives a small amount of colostrum in each feeding, that amount is equivalent to what their small stomach can store. The stomach of a newborn is small.
One of the most common fears or concerns of mothers is the amount of milk the baby is consuming. Remember: their stomach is small and they will consume whatever is necessary to satisfy their hunger.
Pediatricians around the world recommend that babies receive only breast milk during the first six months of life. This means not giving your baby any other solid or liquid food – not even water – during that time.
Not everything is rose colored
Support for the mother is essential, says WHO. Breastfeeding requires learning and many women have difficulties at the beginning. Nipple pain is common as well as the fear that milk is not enough to support the child.
Keep in mind that for support, there are health centers that encourage breastfeeding by making qualified advisers available to mothers.
Thanks to an initiative of WHO and UNICEF, there are currently more than 20,000 “child-friendly” centers in 152 countries. They provide this support and help improve care for mothers and newborns.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Doare KL., Holder B., Bassett A., Pannaraj PS., Mother’s milk: a purposeful contribution to the development of the infant microbiota and immunity. Front Immunol, 2018.
- Cacho NT., Lawrence RM., Innate immunity and breast milk. Front Immunol, 2017.