Almost all pregnant women at some point of their pregnancy decide on how they are going to feed their babies. Usually, this decision is made based on a list of different factors – future mother’s health, family situation, employment conditions, available social support, previous feeding experience, etc. We want to become sure that this list includes your child’s best interest too. This is why we want to discuss with you the three fundamental reasons to breastfeed your baby. All of them are related to your baby’s health and well-being.
Breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition
Though some formula producing companies may claim that their formula is almost as good as breast milk, the unbeatable truth is that even the best baby formula does not come remotely close to mothers’ milk. The ingredients in breast milk are unique. They are specifically tailored for your baby. No food can replicate the ecosystem of breast milk that contains over 500 ingredients such as fats, proteins, antibodies, hormones, enzymes, and micro-nutrients for growth, health and of your baby.
Breast milk is a living substance. Each milliliter of breast milk contains thousands of living cells. Each of those cells has a specific job to do to keep your baby healthy. Unlike formula, this living substance constantly evolves and adjusts its ingredients to address various issues in your baby’s environment. Mother’s body automatically starts producing antibodies to fight germs that are in her and her baby’s environment, and those antibodies are immediately added to her breast milk. This means that her breastfed baby’s immune system is constantly protected against surrounding germs.
Health benefits of breastfeeding are long-term
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by almost 50 percent. It reduces the risk of allergies and asthma. Breastfed infants are more likely to maintain their body temperature, and have more stable heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure due to skin-to-skin contact.
One of the fundamental reasons to breastfeed is the capacity of human breast milk to stimulate the baby’s immune system with long-term health effects. Adults that were breastfed in childhood have lower risk of diabetes, leukemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, asthma, eczema, and obesity. Suckling during breastfeeding promotes proper jaw alignment and, therefore, the risk of orthodontic problems later in life.
Breast milk contains complex sugars needed to feed beneficial gut bacteria known to influence how body burns and stores fat. Compared to exclusive formula fed and mixed fed babies, exclusively breastfed babies have almost twice lower risk of becoming overweight later in life.
Emotional, psychological and cognitive benefits of breastfeeding are a fact
In 2018, the U.S. National Institute of Health published an article written by Kathleen M. Kroll and Tobias Grossman on psychological benefits of breastfeeding. The body of research presented in the article provided evidence for a link between breastfeeding and improved cognitive abilities, memory retention, facilitated brain development, problem solving abilities, greater language skills, intelligence, and a reduced risk for antisocial behaviors and atypical social development.
As compared to babies receiving mixed feeding, exclusively breastfed babies have shown consistent increase in their intelligence scores from age 1 to age 7. The intelligence benefits are still detectable among breastfed children, when the factor of intelligence of their mothers is controlled.
Longer duration of breastfeeding during infancy is positively associated with cognitive performance as adults. Exclusive breastfeeding is positively associated with increased intelligence, educational attainment, and income at 30 years of age, and with reading ability at 53 years of age.
Some of these effects of breastfeeding may be “diluted” over time. Other factors such as influence of parenting methods, peers, and educational systems may become better predictors of cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, the links between breastfeeding experience and its extended psychological and cognitive benefits are significant enough for you to decide how to feed your newborn. Giving a favorable starting point for psychological and cognitive development is in the best interest of your newborn child.
Dear moms, do you breastfeed your babies? How long?