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If someone were to tell you that there is a magic ingredient, which can help keep various diseases away from your baby, increase his IQ, help keep infections at bay and at the same time provide multiple benefits for you. What would you do ? Surely, you would run to the nearest store stocking up on this amazing product. What if we tell you, this magic potion is nothing but your breastmilk? Amazed? Read on to know more benefits of breastfeeding for you and the baby.
Numerous research studies have stated that breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby but also for the mother. There are a lot of nutrients in the breast milk which helps in proper growth of the infant and the antibodies present in the milk help in fighting various diseases and infections.
On the other hand, breastfeeding helps in weight loss for nursing mothers, supports contraction of uterus after pregnancy, reduces stress and depression and creates a bond between the mother and the child.
WHO strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding (with other foods) for the next 6 months of the baby’s life. Let’s discover the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers in detail.
Breast milk contains all nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of life, in just the right proportions. The composition of the breast milk also changes in response to the baby’s needs, during the first few months of life. It contains both saturated and unsaturated fats and cholesterol which is an important constituent of brain and nerve tissue.
The still immature immune system of the infant is not strong enough to fight many diseases. The mother’s breast milk is a powerhouse of antibodies which helps the infant in fighting numerous diseases. For the first six months, mother’s milk is the only defense system available for the child. The antibodies in mother’s milk protect against common problems like Colds and infections, Gut infections, Respiratory tract infection, Inflammatory bowel syndrome, Intestinal tissue damage
The breast milk helps in regulated weight gain in the infant. It is a well-known fact that obesity is one of the main reasons for diseases these days. The children who were breastfed during childhood have 30% less chance to get obese in the teenage or in adulthood.
As per World Health Organization, breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development in children. Studies suggest that the children who are breastfed have better IQ and show better brain development.
It may sound strange to some people but breastfeeding helps in proper development of the teeth in infants. Those babies who nursed for at least 10 months have fewer chances of developing malocclusion which is a condition of misaligned teeth.
Sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS is a rare but heartbreaking condition in which the baby generally dies in sleep, without any particular reason. UNICEF’s programme guide on infant feeding says that breastfeeding can considerably reduce the risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding protects against SIDs by reducing the chances of some of the underlying causes such respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and through boosting the central nervous system, which effectively controls the respiratory system thus reducing the risk of SIDS.
Gaining weight during pregnancy is a normal process as you are going to eat for two. In many cultures, a special diet is given to the expecting mother for the better development of the child which results in weight gain. It has been observed that those mothers who breastfeed their babies lose pregnancy weight more quickly in comparison to those who don’t.
Post pregnancy stress is a common issue across the globe. The infant needs a lot of care which can get overwhelming for the new parents, especially for the mother. In the first few weeks after birth, the increased hormones in the mother’s body can cause anxiety and depression. The mothers who breastfeed their babies feel relaxed and content. It has been shown that breastfeeding moms experience lower blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Women are vulnerable to postmenopausal osteoporosis. During the lactation period, your bones get stronger as they absorb more calcium from the diet to compensate for the effects of pregnancy on the bones. Though the bones of the spine and hips are still less dense compared to pre-pregnancy, they are able to get back some mass lost during pregnancy when you breastfeed.
WHO in its report titled ‘Breast cancer : prevention and control ‘ says that breastfeeding may protect against breast cancer. Health experts believe that this is due to the fact that after lactation, the breast sheds a lot of tissue. During this, the cells with damaged DNA which are often responsible for cancer are also removed. Another reason suggested by some experts is that a woman’s periods are generally stopped during lactation and this reduces exposure of body to the estrogen hormone,which is linked to increased cases of cancer.
The uterus expands during the childbirth and it gets back to its original shape after the birth. Oxytocin which is a hormone is responsible for this process. Lactation in the nursing mother improves the levels of this hormone this helping the mother’s uterus to contract.
So, go ahead, cuddle with your baby and breastfeed him to experience these miraculous benefits.