Why should I feed my baby with only breast milk for first 6 months? This is why

Every mother has a choice to make, the choice to either feed their babies with formula feeds or breast milk. And even with breastfeeding, they have to decide how long it should last, and how soon they should begin with other foods. These decisions come with their profits and consequences, but some are more profitable that’s why the WHO recommends that mothers around the globe exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months of their lives because of the numerous benefits they stand to get, and here is why.

Benefits to the mother


Breastfeeding enhances the mother-baby bond

The first benefit of exclusive breastfeeding to the mother I’m going to talk about is actually a benefit to the baby as well, LOVE.

You see, there is this hormone called oxytocin that’s released in abundance the moment you have a skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. The hormone is also called ‘the love hormone’ which suggests at least one of its functions. This hormone is also released every time your baby sucks on your nipple during a feed. This wonderful hormone helps strengthen the bond with your baby. Have you ever wondered how you baby got to know you more than anyone else? Yep! That’s the handy work of oxytocin and breastfeeding. Other actions during breastfeeding such as cuddling, caressing, eye contact for longer periods also enhances the bond. Isn’t this enough reason to breastfeed you precious child exclusively?

Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract

After childbirth (second stage of labour) comes the third stage where the placenta is expelled. Having your newborn breastfeed early enough helps the uterus contract encouraging the third stage of labour. When this happens, it helps prevent postpartum haemorrhage (excessive bleeding after childbirth), and that’s another work of oxytocin.

This same hormone acts as an antidepressant. In a study, it was found that mothers who had higher levels of oxytocin had fewer anxiety and depression symptoms.

Breastfeeding may prevent menstruation

Breastfeeding, when done exclusively can act as a contraceptive within the first 6 months. This is a natural contraception method with even works better when combined with other methods. What happens here is that ovulation is suppressed by exclusive breastfeeding. Remember though that some women do find their periods return while exclusively breastfeeding, hence take extra precaution if you don’t want to get pregnant.

It saves time and money

From boiling to mixing, cooling to sanitizing, storage to feeding, formula feeds are difficult to manage. Yes, it could be challenging for mothers and their newborn to breastfeed since they have some practicing to do but once the neonate learns to suck properly, you can basically feed at anytime, anywhere (you are comfortable with). Simply unclip your bra and off you go! The best part? You don’t have to remember to pack formula feeding related equipment. At night, when your baby wakes for milk, you could use the side-lying position to feed them without having to move a muscle out of bed to process formula feeds.

But if feeding directly from your breast is going to be a problem probably because you don’t really have time, you can drain and store breastmilk in a refrigerator for about 4 days.

Over Six Months gives protection against infection

Extending breastfeeding over six months, and up to 2 years is a smart move for both your baby and you. By continuing breastfeeding, you lower your lifelong risk of developing a heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers of the breast, ovaries and uterus.

Benefits to the baby

Breast milk is meant to supply all nutritional needs of babies.

For the first few days of breastfeeding, there is this thick goldish liquid that the breasts produce called colostrum. That liquid provides the perfect nutrition in the early days while the baby learns to feed from the breast. Among other benefits from the colostrum is that, it activates the digestive system of the baby, contributes to their cognitive development and provides antibodies that serve as the first “immunization’ for the baby. Quite apart from this, the breast milk is able to adapt to the changes in the nutritional needs of your baby to provide the perfect nutrition for their developmental state.

Breast milk prevents infection

Just as mentioned briefly earlier, breast milk provides antibodies which is especially crucial in those tender early months. The colostrum for example, provides high amount s of immunoglobulin A (IgA) and other antibodies that helps to fight off infection in instances of exposure to viruses and bacteria. IgA particularly protects the baby by forming a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat and digestive system.

As you may have already noticed, formula feeds do not provide such fine benefits. Therefore, babies who aren’t breastfed have a higher tendency of getting infected with diseases such as pneumonia, and diarrhea.

Breastfeeding may make children smarter

In a study of more than 17,000 infants, researchers followed babies from birth to 6 ½ years and concluded from IQ scores and other tests that infants who were exclusively breastfed get all the adequate nutrients for the building of the brain and apart from genetic makeup, the babies have higher IQ scores and are smarter than others who were not exclusively breastfed or breastfed at all.

Exclusive breastfeeding reduces digestive stress.

Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and risk of food allergies are also prevented when exclusive breastfeeding is practiced. Studies indicate that exclusive breastfeeding does not only benefit a baby in his childhood, it also lowers the risk of crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in his adulthood.

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