Most, if not all of us, are aware that breast milk is the best for babies. It is recommended that a newborn baby receives breast milk exclusively (i.e. not water or baby formula) for the first 6months of life. After 6months, complementary feeding is introduced gradually in addition to breast milk till the age of 2years.
In order to appreciate why this is recommended, we will be sharing with you some of the benefits of breast milk.
Benefits to baby
- Breast milk is perfect in composition- carbohydrate, protein, vitamin content and even water.
- Breast milk boosts the baby’s immune system as antibodies are passed from mother to child. These antibodies help fight against bacterial, viral and parasitic infections
- It reduces the baby’s risk of certain diseases later in life eg allergies, asthma, eczema, diabetes, to name a few
- Lowers rate of infant mortality
- Less diarrhea, constipation, and gastroenteritis
- Fewer colds and respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and whooping cough
- Better vision
- Less illness overall and less hospitalization
- Less likelihood of becoming obese later in childhood
- Improved brain maturation
- Less likely to develop heart disease in adulthood
Benefits to mother includes
- Breast feeding helps return the uterus (womb) back to its normal size as well as reduces blood loss after delivery. (Hint: you may notice that you have mild abdominal pains while breast feeding. This is because breast feeding causes the release of a hormone called oxytocin which is helpful in contracting the uterus and ensures return to pre-pregnancy size)
- It reduces a woman’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer. The longer a woman breast feeds, the higher her protection.
- Breast milk is free and helps the family save cost
- It helps mother return to her pre-pregnancy weight.
- Less risk of depression and more positive mood
- Physical and emotional bonding between mother and child is increased
- It also offers some degree of contraception in the first 6months (provided you are exclusively breastfeeding, feed on demand including night and have not seen your menses)
- Lowers risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease
- Less diabetes
To learn more about the benefits of breast feeding, you can see any of our pediatricians’ and/or obstetricians.
There will be a health talk on Exclusive Breast feeding in our hospital on 9th August,2019
Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (Aug 1st-7th 2019)