Why is breast milk the best?
Mums, you would have heard over the years how good breast milk is for the baby! Indeed, it is. Let us help you understand, in a few simple steps, why it is good.
- It’s been made by nature for a human infant. Yes, all milk is not the same. Human breast milk has about 100 small components that aren’t found in cow’s milk. They cannot even be replicated in the laboratory. Since your body is making it, the production changes with the baby’s needs. It’s different in the morning than it is in the late afternoon, different at the beginning of a feeding session than at the end, different in the first month than the seventh, and different for a preemie than for a full-term newborn. It even tastes different, depending on what you’ve been eating. Remember, that’s what was happening to your amniotic fluid when the baby was inside!
- The baby’s oesophagus is still so thin. The thin breast milk travels down this narrow path much. The protein and fat in breast milk are easier to digest than those in cow’s milk or formula. In addition, there are micronutrients that will settle nicely in the tummy.
- Once the breast milk goes down, it has to stay in the tummy and get absorbed, right?! We don’t want gas or spitting up or constipation. Baby’s poop looks like diarrhoea? It’s not. Breastfed babies have softer poop. This milk keeps away harmful microorganisms and throws in some good bacteria for digestion.
- While IQ is highly inherited, some remarkable research shows that breast-fed babies have higher IQ as teens. They say it's related to the brain-building fatty acids that breast milk has.
- We recommend that you don’t use cow’s milk at this stage. Some babies may develop allergies, asthma and eczema because of it.
- Poop of breastfed babies doesn’t smell bad and has lower chances of giving a diaper rash.
- It’s an infection fighter. With each and every feeding, babies get a dose of immunity. Babies who are breastfed have fewer colds, ear infections, lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and other illnesses than bottle-fed infants. If they do get sick, they’ll usually recover more quickly and with fewer complications. Breastfeeding may improve the immune response to immunizations for some diseases.
- We often don’t notice this fact but breastfed babies have more control over how much they are consuming. They will have as much as they want and then stop. If fed by a bottle, they could be fed till the bottle is empty. So, that means that chances of obesity as adults is low.
- Stage-wise composition of milk is a wonder! When you start a feed, there is lower-calorie foremilk that reduces your baby’s thirst. Towards the end, the richer milk comes that gives the needed calories.
- (DHA) in breast milk, but also to the closeness and mother-baby interaction that is built into breastfeeding, which is believed to nurture a newborn’s intellectual development. (Bottle-feeding parents can tap into this benefit, too, by keeping close during feeds, even doing skin-to-skin feeds).
- The baby gets a lot of comfort from sucking from a mother’s nipple. Even when the breast is empty, the comfort of sucking is something a bottle cannot give.
- It builds stronger mouths. Mama’s nipples and baby’s mouth are made for each other—a naturally perfect pair. Even the most scientifically designed bottle nipple can’t match a breast nipple, which gives a baby’s jaws, gums, and palate a good workout—a workout that ensures optimum oral development and some perks for the baby’s future teeth. Babies who are breastfed may also be less likely to get cavities later on in childhood.
There are also breastfeeding benefits for mom (and dad):
- Convenience. Breast milk is the ultimate convenience food—always in stock, ready to serve, and consistently dispensed at the perfect temperature. You don’t have to worry about sterilising bottles and checking the temperature.
- Speedier postpartum recovery. It’s only natural that breastfeeding is best for newly delivered moms, too—after all, it’s the natural conclusion to pregnancy and childbirth. It’ll help your uterus shrink back to its pre pregnancy size more quickly, which in turn will reduce your flow of lochia (the postpartum discharge), decreasing blood loss. And by burning upward of 500 extra calories a day, breastfeeding your little one can help you shed those leftover pregnancy pounds faster. Some of those pounds were laid down as fat reserves earmarked specifically for milk production—now’s your chance to use them.
- Breastfeeding gives you some protection against pregnancy. What happens is that ovulation is often suppressed in nursing moms for several months or more, exclusively breastfeeding your baby gives you natural birth control. It is not a sureshot bet so you need to be vigilant, though.
- You get long-term health benefits, too. Women who breastfeed have a slightly lower risk of developing uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and premenopausal breast cancer. They’re also less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than women who don’t breastfeed. Plus, women who nurse have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis later in life than women who have never breastfed.
- Nighttime feeds are easier since you don’t need to walk around in the dark trying to prepare a bottle.
- A natural bonding occurs. The benefit of breastfeeding you’re likely to appreciate most is the bond it nurtures between you and your little one. There’s skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact, and the opportunity to cuddle, baby-babble, and coo built right into every feed.