Breast is Best
I’m sure some of you may wonder why there is an entire breastfeeding week to increase breastfeeding awareness, so I am here to inform you on what the benefits are when it comes to breastfeeding. I hope this blog makes you more informed so that you can enlighten others on the amazing benefits breastfeeding has on the baby, mother, community and the world.
I hope that through increased breastfeeding awareness, more women will feel comfortable to breastfeed and hopefully more work spaces and public settings will support and promote breastfeeding. Women should feel confident and comfortable to breastfeed and should not be judged for providing their child with such amazing nutrition.
First off, exclusive breastfeeding is crucial for the first 6 months of life and for those of you who don’t know, this is when the baby only receives breast milk and nothing else for the first 6 months of life. This is because breast milk contains antioxidants, enzymes and antibodies which makes breastfed children less susceptible to infections and chronic diseases, promotes cognitive development in children and provides infants with all the nutrients needed for optimal health, growth and development.
Breastfeeding can continue for up to two years and beyond, but from the age of six months breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods should be provided.
Now lets have a look at all the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding benefits for the baby:
It decreases infant mortality and morbidity
Increases survival rates, decreases malnutrition and promotes a lifetime of good health with decreased risk of developing chronic lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Your baby will receive all the nutrients needed to grow and develop healthily for the first six months of life. From 6 months to two years, breast milk continues to give your child many of the nutrients needed.
Colostrum is the first yellowish milk the breast produces for the first 3-4 days after the baby is born and is seen as the first immunisation for your baby. Colostrum is rich in protective substances which protects your baby from various infections.
Breast milk contains antibodies that helps strengthen your baby’s immune system which protects your baby from common illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and ear infections.
Breast milk strengthens your babies gut lining which decreases your babies’ risk of infections.
Breast milk is more readily available and does not need to be prepared like infant milk formula.
Promotes bonding between the mother and child.
Babies who are exclusively breastfed tend to not suffer from constipation like infant formula babies sometimes do.
Benefits for the mother:
Breastfeeding stimulates the contraction of the uterus which helps decrease post-partum bleeding.
Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease the risk of osteoporosis and breast and ovarian cancer later in life.
Mothers tend to reach their pre-pregnancy weight faster when breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding delays the onset of menstruation which assists in birth spacing as it acts as a form of contraception if the mother breastfeeds on demand.
Breastfeeding is more convenient for the mother and more cost effective.
Benefits for the community:
Less absenteeism from work due to infant illness.
Supportive breastfeeding policies at work can help mothers return to work a lot sooner and promotes happier and more productive employees.
Breastfeeding is more environmentally friendly.
Healthier and happier mother and baby which decreases the stress often experienced by the family and the community.
Benefits for the world:
Decreased infant mortality and morbidity rates.
Breast milk is natural, renewable and environmentally safe.
A healthy baby leads to a healthier population. This can lead to decreased health care costs related to infant illnesses and health care costs spent on treating chronic diseases later on in life.
Contributes to a more stable work force.
Decreases the financial burden due to the low cost of breastfeeding.
Decreased waste production that can be due to bottles and infant milk formula.
Breastfeeding is exceptionally valuable as seen from all the benefits mentioned above. It is the best gift a mother can give to her child which is why breastfeeding protection, promotion and support is so crucial.
Through increased awareness and education, I hope breastfeeding will become more popular so that we see less and less chronic lifestyle diseases, a decrease in infant morbidity and mortality, less childhood illnesses and a decrease in waste production.
The future is in our hands, so lets make people more aware of the importance of breastfeeding.