Giving your baby breast milk is the most natural form of feeding there is, and offers an unequalled way of providing the ideal food for your baby, helping your baby to grow healthy and naturally.
The World Health Organisation and most government agencies recommend that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life, continuing with breast milk as part of their daily diet until around the age of two years. But that’s not the only reason why you should breastfeed your baby; here are 6 others.
Breast milk is totally free. Although it seems obvious, this is often overlooked by mothers who are considering not breastfeeding and switching instead to formula milk. When you breastfeed you save money by not having to buy such items as, baby formula, bottles, nipples, sterilizers and special travel bags to keep formula either warm or cold. When breastfeeding, you also don’t have to eat for two; just eat as you normally would, so there’s no additional expense there either. Finally, you save on buying clothes. Milk stains left behind on clothes after breastfeeding do not leave permanent marks the way that formula milk does. You can simply wash your clothes to remove milk stains; no need to buy new ones.
Your baby will let you know when he or she is hungry. Breastfeeding mothers can simply sit down and relax and get on with nursing their baby. Your breast milk is instant nourishment, always at the right temperature and consistency. No so with feeding your baby formula. Also, breastfeeding in public is getting easier, with many shops, restaurants and other establishments providing a private place in which to feed your baby. Modern nursing bras are so comfortable and well-designed that you can easily, discretely and confidently feed your baby in public places.
During pregnancy it is quite normal for expectant mothers to put on weight. Breastfeeding helps use up the fat that was stored up during your pregnancy. In fact, breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day, which will help you regain your pre-pregnancy figure.
Health Benefits to Your Baby
Research has proved that babies who are breastfed have a lower occurrence of obesity, diabetes and long-term heart disease. There is also a reduced risk of gastro enteritis, childhood allergies (such as eczema and asthma), and of developing painful infections in areas such as the respiratory systems, urinary tract and the ear. Your breast milk is full of antibodies, which are passed on to your child when you nurse; even the best formula can’t offer this protection.
Health Benefits for You
Women who breastfeed are at less risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hip fractures and problems with bone density (which can lead to the disease osteoporosis). Women who breastfeed are also less likely to be overweight.
In recent years the medical professional has realised – something mothers always instinctively knew – that bonding begins right at birth. Nowadays, mothers are encouraged to start breastfeeding almost immediately after the birth of the baby. This helps the bonding between mother and child. Hormones are released when you give birth and hold your baby close – these hormones are further increased by breast stimulation and feeding. The release of these hormones eases the pain felt during and after birth and also help to relax you, thus letting you get on with taking care of your baby.
Breastfeeding is totally natural; however it does need to be learned – by both mother and child. Therefore, you should bear in mind that it might take two or three weeks before you and your baby have sorted things out. If you are having difficulties, don’t stop breastfeeding; instead talk to your midwife as she will have the expertise to help you during this time. Also, talk and ask for support from family, friends and your partner.