It is no exaggeration when one says that every adult is well-aware about the act of breastfeeding that involves feeding an infant straight from the female breast. However, the fact is that not many people are aware about the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother as well as for the baby. If the figures are to be believed then in 2011, around 6.9 million children died before they turned 5. A shocking revelation was that out of these, around 98 percent deaths took place in the developing countries with 1.6 million deaths in India. Public health experts state that breastfeeding alone for 6 months can save many such unfortunate children. Neither water nor food is generally required during these months.
The United Nations Children’s Funds, that is UNICEF’s endeavor, World Breastfeeding Week (1st – 7th August) is directed towards informing all that breastfeeding is actually the best way to keep your child healthy. They want to do away with myths related to it. It is not just a special act that bonds the mother and the baby but it also has several health benefits for both of them.
Following are the reasons to breastfeed your child:
- Fulfills the emotional needs of the baby- Being cuddled-up or held close during breastfeeding, fulfills the emotional needs of the baby. This act helps the baby in feeling warm, cozy and secure.
- Breast milk has every necessary nutrient- The breast milk of the mother has every nutrient, necessary for the infant. For the long-term health and development of the child, it is required that the infant should be on breastfeed alone, for 6 months.
- Reduces the risk of breast/ovarian cancer in the mother- Various studies show that breastfeeding, largely reduces the risk of breast/ovarian cancer in the mother. The risk gets even lower if a woman starts lactating at a younger age.
- Formula feeding increases breast cancer risk in baby infants- It has been proved that any woman who was formula-fed instead of being breastfed during her infancy days, she is more prone to breast cancer. Breastfeeding, even more a small span of time, really helps.
- Formula feeding is linked with a lower IQ in the child- Recent studies show that the infants, who were breastfed, had higher IQ levels and were better academically than who were formula-feed.
- Breast milk helps in the flow of meconium- At the time of birth, a tar-like substance, meconium is found in the intestines of the babies. Early milk or Colostrum helps in its free-flow all through the body.
- Breast milk strengthens the immunity system- The milk of a mother’s breast carries nutrition that helps in the development as well as strengthening immunity system in the baby.
- Breast milk is easily digestible- In comparison to cow or formula milk, an infant can easily digest human milk, because of the presence of some particular kinds of enzymes and proteins.
- Lactation shrinks mother’s uterus post-childbirth- Lactation helps the uterus of the nursing mother to get back in its shape, after the birth of her child. Contrary to this, non-breastfeeding mother’s uterus does not get back to its pre-delivery size and generally remains large.
- Helps mother in losing weight- Mothers who breastfeed their child, get back in shape faster as this act requires around 500 extra calories per day.
- Breast feeding helps in the prevention of post-partum hemorrhage- Lactation releases oxytocin in the mother’s body. It helps in the contraction of the uterus to the normal size, pushing out the placenta. This shuts off the blood vessels of the mother from which the baby earlier received food, hence, reducing excessive bleeding (post-partum hemorrhage).