Human milk is the ideal for all babies upto 6 months exclusively according to WHO guidelines. Human milk is rich in immunity and nutrition and the constitution of milk keeps changing to accommodate babies growing needs. It has ideal balance of all the nutrients and none of the formula companies have managed to duplicate this composition.
Breastfeeding has advantages for both mother and babies.
1) Immunological Protection: The first milk/ colostrum has lot of immunological components as compared to mature milk. It provides protection to the baby against infection. The immunological components of breast milk (both colostrum and mature milk) has living tissue containing enzymes, immunoglobulins and leukocytes that actively fight with pathogens.
2) Otitis Media: This is the infection of ear. Human milk oligosaccharides and antibodies provide protection against respiratory infections thus reducing the incidence of otitis media mainly under the age of 1 year.
3) Lower Respiratory tract Infections :The respiratory tract infections causing hospitalization during first year of life is 3.5 times higher in formula fed babies as compared to breastfed babies. Also, studies suggest that severity of lower respiratory infections is lower in breastfed infants until the age of 8.
4) Gastrointestinal Infection: The breastmilk contains lactobacillus which is gut favorable microbiome that reduces the incidence of gastrointestinal infections by competing with potentially pathogenic bacteria for nutrients.
5) Allergies: The incidence of allergies is also lesser in breastfed babies.
6)Neurodevelopment: The development of babies neurological functions is immature at birth. Breastmilk provides right nutrition for establishing this maturity. The breastfed babies have higher IQ and cognitive functions.
7) Obesity: The breastfed child appears leaner in the initial months, but this is not the case. The ideal growth chart has now been made according to normal breastfed infant's growth, considering that as ideal growth pattern. The risk of obesity in breastfed children is lesser as compared to formula fed children at a later age.
8) Type 1 Diabetes: The breastfed babies who are exclusively breastfed for more than 3 months have reduced incidence of Type 1 Diabetes. The further studies are being conducted on cow's milk formula, as it is known to cause increase islet cell auto antibodies which would increase the incidence of the disease.
1) Uterine Contraction:Sucking of the baby releases hormone oxytocin, that causes uterine contraction helping uterus to return to pre pregnancy state and also to reduce uterine bleeding.
2) Relieves Stress:The hormone oxytocin also has calming and anti stress effect on mind thus breastfeeding makes mother peaceful and calm. There is incidence suggestive of lower rates of postnatal depression in breastfeeding mothers.
3) Reduces Fat:Making milk requires lot of energy. Thus everytime breastmilk is made lot of energy is utilised and most of the times fat storage in the body is used for this process. Thus, the extra fat mother had put on during her pregnancy starts melting away during breastfeeding.
4) Lactation Amenorrhea: Breastfeeding delays ovulation leading to lactation amenorrhea. This works well for spacing between the babies. This is more effective if breastfeeding is exclusive with mother breastfeeding or expressing every 2-3 hours throughout 24 hours.
5) Type 2 Diabetes:Breastfeeding exclusively for first six months is known to reduce the risk of type 2 Diabetes later in life for those mothers who had gestational Diabetes.
6) Rheumatoid Arthritis:Breastfeeding for more than 1 year has also shown to have effect on reducing the incidences of severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
7) Reproductive cancers:Breastfeeding exclusively has known to reduce incidence of ovarian and breast cancers.
8) Bonding: Breastfeeding helps strengthening the bond between the mother and child.
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