Mothering can be both exciting and challenging. It fills our lives with joy and happiness but also brings an enormous sense of responsibility for our children. Among parenting decisions, “what to feed?” is, perhaps, one of the most important questions we ask ourselves.
Breastfeeding is a trend nowadays. While making a decision to breastfeed is a personal matter, it is usually the first choice for most women. Certainly, there is a strong reason why.
1. Your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby.
By kissing your baby, you take pathogens living on her or his skin and produce antibodies to them. Then you transfer those antibodies to your baby through breast milk.
2. Breast milk has unique qualities of a perfect food. Your breast milk has about 500 different components, and most of them cannot be duplicated in an infant formula. It is a complex and changing substance, a living tissue like the human blood that changes own composition according to the changing needs of your growing baby.
3. Breast milk is a perfectly balanced nutrition. It has the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals. It is 88 percent water, so healthy babies that are exclusively breastfed on demand do not need additional water.
4. Breast milk has self-digesting property. The special enzyme called lipase breaks down the fats in breast milk, making it much more digestible for newborns than infant formula.
5. It contains “smarter” fats. While cow milk is designed for a calf to put on weight quickly and grow fast, human milk contains DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid – that is a vital nutrient for brain development. Some studies have even found a link between breastfeeding and higher IQ scores, better school attendance, and higher income in adult life.
6. It benefits your baby’s immune system. Unlike formula, breast milk contains special immune system protective components such as lactoferrin, immunoglobulin, Bifidus factor and others that destroy viruses and bacteria and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in baby’s gut.
7. Health benefits of the breast milk are unbeatable. Numerous studies prove that breastfed babies usually have fewer stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis than non-breastfed babies do. They are also less prone to allergies thanks to immune factors that act as a protective layer for baby’s intestinal tract. In fact, if all children were optimally breastfed, over 800,000 children’s lives could be saved every year.
8. Long-term health benefits of breastfeeding are impressive. Adults that were breastfed in childhood have a lower risk of diabetes, leukemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, asthma, eczema, and obesity compared to those who were formula fed.
9. Breastfeeding is beneficial for mother’s health too. Studies confirm that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer in proportion to the cumulative lifetime duration of breastfeeding: the relative risk of breast cancer decreases by 4.3% for every 12 months of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer keeping the estrogen levels low during lactation.
10. Last, but not least, breastfeeding is economically beneficial. A family may spend several thousand US dollars on baby’s first year. Infant formula only will cost $1,200–$1,500 or more. Breastfeeding costs almost zero.
Breastfeeding is more than just health and economic benefits. It is a special emotional bonding experience for mother and child. Despite sleepless nights, breast pains, worries about milk supply, breastfeeding continues the feeling of “oneness” experienced during pregnancy when mother’s body provided nourishment, warmth, comfort, and safety to her baby.
Was your breastfeeding journey worth taking? Share it with us.