Breastfeeding Benefits & Your Baby's Health

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Breastfeeding Benefits & Your Baby's Health
Breastfeeding is one of the best things a mother can do for her child. It not only provides baby with nutrition, but it also helps build a bond between you and your baby.

Research shows that breast milk is best for a baby's health and is perfectly suited to protect the baby from illnesses. Babies who are breast-fed are healthier and develop a stronger immune system, making them less prone to hospital admissions and problems such as diarrhea, allergies, and infections, which are more prevalent in babies who are bottle-fed.

The question most mothers face after giving birth is how long to breast feed their baby. Should it be for a week, a month, for a year or more? According to the government guidelines babies should be breast fed for at least a year after birth. However, this is not a realistic goal for most mothers, especially if they have to work or stay away from home for a longer period of time. Products like Medela style breast pumps can help nursing mothers store milk to feed their baby. This can be extremely useful for working mothers who want to provide the best nutrition to their baby. Here are some of the benefits provided by breast milk.

Protection against illnesses.....

Breast milk is not only highly nutritious, but it also contains disease fighting substances which help the baby build a strong immune system. In addition to containing nutrients, vitamins and minerals, it contains antibodies which are not present in formula
Breastfeeding baby
milk. During the last months of pregnancy and the first few days after birth, colostrum is produced by the mothers breasts which is different from milk. It is a clear golden - yellow coloured fluid which is thick and sticky and contains a highly concentrated form of antibodies. It contains low fat content and is high in carbohydrates and proteins, making it easy for the new born to digest it. Its thick concentration provides more nutrition to the baby, as compared to natural milk. Colostrum also contains a natural laxative, which helps the baby to pass early stools, keeping the baby's digestive tract clear and healthy. The antibodies present in colostrum also help prevent jaundice in babies after birth.

Breastfeeding in the early days after child birth not only reduces gastrointestinal problems, but it also helps in preventing respiratory problems and ear infections. This is possible due to the immune factors present in colostrum which form a protective layer on the baby's mucous membranes in the intestines, nose and throat, guarding the baby against invading germs. It is essential that mothers should start nursing their baby right after birth to provide the baby with all these health benefits.

Exclusive breastfeeding should be continued for at least six months after birth, which means no other solid food should be given to the baby. Breastfeeding for six or more months helps the baby build a strong immune system, making it less likely that the baby will suffer from allergies. The first six months of breast feeding can protect the childs respiratory system against respiratory allergies till adolescence. Other studies show that if a child is breast fed for the first 4 months, it significantly reduces the child to develop asthma by the age of 6.

Boosts your child's intelligence

Studies have shown that babies who are breast fed for at least the first 6 months after child birth have higher IQs. Although the exact reason for this is unknown, some experts say that it could be due to the emotional bonding between the mother and the child which develops during breastfeeding, while other experts think it could be due to the specific fatty acids present in breast milk which help in the development of the baby's brain.

Protects against obesity and diabetes

Breastfeeding is also known to reduce the chances of a child becoming obese in the later years of life. Babies who are breast fed develop healthier eating patterns as they grow, enabling them to regulate their fat intake. Moreover, breast milk contains less insulin as compared to formula milk, which protects the baby from developing type 1 diabetes at a later stage in life. Breastfeeding is also known to reduce the chances of childhood cancers and leukemia in children.

There are many more benefits of breastfeeding, which are not only useful for your baby, but they can help you in your life later on. This is why breastfeeding should be an important health choice which mothers have to choose for their babies. By breastfeeding, you not only spend time with your baby, but you are able to build a bond between you and your baby, making it an enjoyable experience. Every mother should take this opportunity to succeed and take the best decision for herself and her baby.

April 2009

Take A Look At Our BreastFeeding Advice Section

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