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Health 13 May 2017
By: Natasha Tanga

Reasons Why Breastfeeding is Beneficial for Mom and Baby

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Being the only food a newborn baby needs until they reach 6 months of age, breastmilk is pretty much liquid gold. It contains the natural balance of proteins, fats and vitamins that truly do a body good and possibly providing protection from some medical conditions, protecting the baby at their most fragile state and building life-long defenses. Aside from their numerous benefits for your newborn, it also benefits you in the long run. Below, we've listed the reasons why you should consider breastfeeding your baby.  

FOR BABY

1. Improving Immune Strength in Children

Breastmilk is loaded with antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. In the first few days after giving birth, new mothers produce a special kind of milk called colostrum, which is particularly rich in the protective factors babies need for immune defence. Colostrum provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as several other antibodies. When the mother is exposed to viruses or bacteria, she starts producing antibodies. These antibodies are then secreted into the breast milk and passed to the baby during feeding. This makes it a really important time to be breastfeeding, since the baby’s immune system will continue to develop and mature over the years.

2. Lowers Risk of Infections, Chronic Diseases and Allergies

Enhanced immunity that is brought by breastmilk armors the baby from developing common infections like diarrhoea and gastroenteritis, as well as respiratory, ear or urinary tract infections. 

Some studies suggest that breastfeeding is also linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure later in life. It causes protective effect against early-onset inflammatory bowel disease. Breastfeeding is also thought to reduce the likelihood of children developing allergies like asthma, dermatitis or food allergies.

3. Promotes Visual and Cognitive Development

Compared to bottle/formula feeding, breastfeeding can have long-term benefits for a child’s cognitive development and visual sharpness. According to research, breastfed babies have higher IQ scores and are less likely to develop problems with behavior and learning as they grow older. This difference may be due to the physical intimacy, touch and eye contact associated with breastfeeding. These benefits seem to be more pronounced with increased breastfeeding durations.

4. Promotes Healthy Weight

Studies show some evidence that breastfeeding lowers risk of obesity in children. Moreover, there is an association between breastfed infants and healthy weight in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.  This may be due to the development of different gut bacteria since breastfed babies have higher amounts of beneficial gut bacteria, which may affect fat storage. Breastfed babies also possess more leptin in their system, which is also one of the major hormone that regulates appetite and fat storage, thus preventing obesity.

FOR MOTHER

1. Speeds up postpartum weight loss. 

Breastfeeding mothers tend to have an earlier return to their pre-pregnant weight, since studies showed significantly larger reductions in hip circumference and more fat loss by one month postpartum when compared with formula-feeding moms. 

2. Prevents postpartum depression. 

Not only does breastfeeding benefit a mother’s body, it also benefits her mind. Many mothers feel fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while nursing. These feelings are augmented by the release of hormones, such as Prolactin and Oxytocin.

3. Reduces the risk of cancer. 

Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25%. The more months or years a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding is also beneficial to prevent uterine and ovarian cancer. One of the reasons for the cancer-fighting effects of breastfeeding is that estrogen levels are lower during lactation. It is thought that the less estrogen available to stimulate the lining of the uterus and perhaps breast tissue also, the less the risk of these tissues becoming cancerous.

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