Choosing to breastfeed is literally a health investment
in your baby's future. Breastfeeding is by all means nature’s perfect food for
your baby in the first 6 months of life. When you read the below, you will
realize what you will be denying your baby and yourself if you choose not to breastfeed:
Human milk provides
virtually all the protein, sugar, and fat your baby needs to be healthy. The components
of the immune system (white blood cells, hormones, enzymes and antibodies) found
in your breast milk confer protection to your baby against a wide variety of diseases and
infections not only during breastfeeding, but this effect may last long after weaning.
Formula cannot offer this protection.
If you develop a cold while breastfeeding, there will be chance
that you pass the cold germs on to your baby—but the antibodies your body
produces to fight that cold also will be passed on through your milk. These
antibodies will help your infant conquer the cold germs quickly and effectively
and possibly avoid developing the cold altogether. This defense against
illnesses significantly decreases the chances that your breastfeeding baby will
suffer from ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract
infections, or certain types of meningitis. Infants under the age of one year who
breastfed exclusively for a minimum of four months, were found to be less
likely to be hospitalized for a lower respiratory tract infection when compared
with their formula-fed counterparts. Even infants who go to day-care and hence
are more likely to catch germs due to their close proximity, have a lower risk
pf falling ill if they are breastfed or fed their mothers’ milk in a bottle.
Humans harbor a very large number of good bacteria, known as
intestinal flora, in their intestines. Some of the bacteria serve normal and
healthy functions, and some can cause disease such as diarrhea. Human milk promotes
the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract of the breastfed baby.
This is possible thanks, in part to substances called prebiotics, which are
found in human milk. Since human milk stimulates the growth of these “friendly”
strains of bacteria, the growth of the noxious bacteria (which are more likely
to cause disease) is inhibited. It has been well established that formula-fed
infants have much higher rates of diarrheal diseases which may require visits
to the doctor or sometimes to the hospital for intravenous fluids.
Another benefit of breast feeding to your baby is allergy
prevention: some evidence suggests that breastfeeding protects babies born to
families with a history of allergies, compared to those babies who are fed
either a standard cow’s milk based formula or a soy formula. These risks
include: risk of milk allergy, atopic dermatitis (commonly known as eczema),
and wheezing early in life. The likely explanation is that immune components in
maternal milk provide protection against these allergic diseases.
Transfer of the human milk antibodies and other immunologic
substances may also contribute to decreasing the likelihood of developing
childhood acute leukemia and lymphoma. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that
breast feeding is associated with a 36-50 % reduction in the risk of sudden
infant death syndrome (SIDS). Other research result suggest that breastfed
infants are less likely to be obese in adolescence and adulthood. They are also
less vulnerable to developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Breastfeeding helps a mother's health and healing following
childbirth. It helps lower the risk of:
types of breast cancer
One of the practical advantages of exclusive breastfeeding (no
water, juice, formula, solids, or other supplements for the baby) is that it
significantly reduces the chance of conceiving again during the first six
months after baby delivery; this is possible because it delays the resumption
of your ovulatory cycles.
Before your newborn reaches the age of six months, and your
periods still have not yet started again, and you are fully
breastfeeding both day and night, you will probably not become pregnant even without the
active use of contraceptive methods.
who breastfed their babies said it helped them get back to their pre-pregnancy
weight more quickly.
can be harder for your baby to digest: especially for premature
babies (born before 37 weeks of gestation). This is because formula is
made from cow's milk, and it often takes time for babies' stomachs to
adjust to digesting it.
is easier and cheaper! Think about it: no bottles and nipples to
sterilize, no need to buy, measure, and mix formula, no bottles to warm in
the middle of the night!
physical contact is important to newborns. It helps them feel more secure,
warm, and comforted. Mothers also benefit from this closeness, especially
working mothers once their maternity leave ends and they resume their job:
breast feeding will remain the most emotional moment of the day with their
baby. The skin-to-skin contact boosts your oxytocin levels; oxytocin is a
hormone that enhances the flow of breast milk.