Breastfeeding, or also known as nursing, is when you feed your baby breast milk. You and your baby are unique and making the decision to breastfeed is a personal matter. It is strongly recommended by medical experts such as World Health Organizations (WHO) and Malaysia Pediatric Association that newborns should be breastfed exclusively until they reach 6 months of age and continue breastfeeding until 2 years of age.
The benefits of breastfeeding are not just limited to your newborn baby, but also you, both mother and father as well. Here are 10 science-based benefits of breastfeeding that are wonders for you and your little ones.
Breastfeeding benefits for baby
- Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for babies
Breast milk contains everything your little one needs, all in the right proportions. Its composition even changes according to your baby’s changing needs, especially during the rapid changes during the first month of life. During the first few days after birth, your breasts produce a thick, yellowish fluid called colostrum. Colostrum is the ideal first milk. It is high in protein, low in sugar and its benefits are not replaceable by infant formula. As the baby’s stomach grows, the breast will start to produce larger amounts of milk.
2. Breast milk contains essential antibodies
Fun fact, did you know that when you are exposed to viruses and bacteria, your body starts to produce antibodies that then pass into your milk? Breast milk contains antibodies that help your little ones fight off viruses and bacteria, which is vital in those fragile, early months. Colostrum is rich in immunoglobulin A (IgA) and several other antibodies. IgA forms a protective layer in your baby’s nose, throat and digestive system, protecting your little ones from getting sick.
3. Breast milk promotes baby’s healthy weight
Breast milk is easily digested, making it easier for nutrients to be absorbed. In other words, breast milk causes fewer stomach upsets, diarrhoea, and constipation than formula. Other than that, breastfed babies also self-regulate their milk intake, which helps them learn and develop healthy eating patterns by recognizing and satisfying their hunger cues.
4. Breastfeeding may reduce disease risk
By exclusively breastfeeding, meaning that your baby receives only breast milk, is especially beneficial. It has been linked to reducing your little one’s risk for many illnesses and diseases, including respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections, colds, gut infections, allergic disease, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and diabetes.
5. Breastfeeding may make children smarter
Breastfeeding might help in your little one’s brain development, especially with preterm babies. Preterm babies are subjected to a higher risk of developmental issues. Studies suggested that breastfed babies have higher intelligence scores and are less likely to develop behavioural problems or learning difficulties as they grow older. It may be due to the breastmilk’s nutrition composition, as well as the physical intimacy, touch, eye contact and bonding that are associated with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding benefits for you
6. Breastfeeding may aid in getting back your figure
Making milk for a baby requires around 500kcal a day, so you are burning extra calories. The greatest weight loss takes place between three and six months postpartum as you will experience an increase in fat burning compared to non-lactating mothers.
7. Breastfeeding help in uterus contraction
Your uterus grows greatly during your pregnancy, expanding from the size of a pear to almost taking the entire space of your abdomen. Your body produces high amounts of oxytocin during labour and breastfeeding. Oxytocin helps in delivering the baby, reducing bleeding, bonding with your baby and inducing contractions to help the uterus to return to its previous size.
8. Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of cancers
Studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. The longer the average durations of breastfeedings, the greater the reduction of risk for breast and ovarian cancers. Although the exact mechanisms are still unknown, however, researchers hypothesize that it may be linked to the hormonal cycle associated with pregnancy, breastfeeding and weaning.
9. Breastfeeding may prevent menstruation
Continued breastfeeding may aid in natural spacing between each child, as it pauses ovulation and menstruation. This may be nature’s way of ensuring there is some recovery time for your body between pregnancies. Other than that, this may also be one less thing to worry about while you enjoy your precious bonding time with your newborn.
10. Breastfeeding is more time-saving and economical
Breastfeeding saves time as breast milk is readily available, always at the right temperature coming from your breast and will not be contaminated or improperly mixed when compared to formulas. Other than that, breastfeeding is more economical compared to formula as it provides many indirect benefits such as less doctor’s visit, hospitalization and the possible need for more antibiotics and other medications.
Hegen’s revolutionary PPSU PCTO™ bottle allows you to Express, Store and Feed within a single container by simply swapping the bottle’s feeding head, storage lid and adapter to convert a feeding bottle into a breast milk storage container or pumping container without any transfer of milk. This minimises wastage and reduces mess, making every drop count to promote seamless and sustainable breastfeeding.