Nature provides all that is necessary for the optimum survival and development of her children, if we diligently follow her rules we would reap the healthy benefits but when we veer from her course we face repercussions.
One important scenario that exemplifies this truism is breast feeding, in this era of convenience mothers can choose between giving their babies breast milk or formula, many opt for the latter stating work and convenience as their reason.
Studies show that breast feeding has a lot of advantages over feeding with formula for the baby, mother and society.
3-5 days after a baby is born, the mother’s mammary glands secrete a unique type of milk, colostrum, referred to as liquid gold because of its yellowish color. This thick milk contains vital nutrients and antibodies required by the child to grow and develop resistance to diseases, after this 3-5 days, the mammary gland of the mother begins to secrete another type of milk, less thick and yellow, containing fat, sugar, water, proteins, fats and all the antibodies and nutrients the child’s body needs.
Studies reveal that children fed breast milk at this important stage grow up healthier and stronger than children fed formula. They are able to naturally develop resistance to many illnesses including gastro-intestinal illness, allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, childhood cancers, respiratory and urinary tract infections and SIDS.
Another important advantage of breast milk over formula, breast milk is easily digestible by baby’s stomach, nature intended babies to be fed breast milk, therefore their stomachs are equipped with the right enzymes to properly break down and absorb breast milk. On the other hand formula, made of cow milk is new to the child’s system and their stomach have not developed the ability to properly digest and absorb cow milk, therefore there are complications in digestion and the baby loses out on important nutrients and antibodies needed for optimum health.
Opting for breast milk over formula has a lot of benefits for mothers too, studies shows that it reduces the risk of developing illnesses like diabetes, postpartum depression, and reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers.
The skin to skin contact between mother and child during breast feeding raises the mother’s oxytocin levels which helps the mother’s milk flow and make her calm, scientists say that during breast feeding the mother and child develop a special emotional bond that lasts lifelong.
Breast feeding is cheaper and more convenient for mothers than formula. By choosing breast milk mothers save money that hitherto would have be spent on formula, they also save time as breast milk does not need to be prepared.
The society benefits from mothers breast feeding rather than feeding children formula, the energy and resource used up in producing, packaging and distributing formula can be used for other purposes.
Mothers are more productive because them and their babies are healthy and would not need to take leave from work for health reasons as may be the case a mother who feeds her baby formula.
Government funds for supporting mothers with formula and taking care of them when health complications arise can be put to other use for the benefit of the society.
Nature is indeed perfect and works for us when we follow her rules.
Recently, there has been a whole lot of debate about breastfeeding in public, say in the park or in office space. While a major section of the community- male and female- have stood up for the rights of the mother to breastfeed her baby as and when is required, a considerable portion of the population has screwed their noses up at the very idea of a women exposing her breasts to feed her baby. This section of the population that deems public breastfeeding a shameful and exhibitionist act seems to forget that the timely feeding of an infant has a lot more to it than just quelling its hunger; breastfeeding has long term consequences on the health of an individual.
In this article, we will step aside the controversy and look at the benefits of why breastfeeding is so important.
Healthier for babies
A breastfed baby is generally healthier than babies who are fed on formula. This streak of good health is seen not just in infancy and childhood, but throughout one’s life. A breastfed baby is proven to have lower chances of contracting asthma and allergies, pneumonia, and colds. Not only that, breastfeeding also improves immunity for the long term; the baby is much less likely to contract illnesses like type 2 diabetes in the long run. The milk is perfectly suited to the baby’s requirements, so it is less likely that it will contract gastrointestinal disorders, which can be extremely detrimental and even deadly at infancy. In fact, breastfed babies are also much more receptive of vaccinations, with fewer instances of allergies and other side effects.
Most nutritious baby food
The naturally occurring mother’s milk is the most nutritious food the baby can get. It is the perfect, balanced mix of the required proteins, vitamins, and minerals and it is the right consistency that makes it easy for the baby to digest. It is also the right balance of sugar and nutrients, so that a feeding keeps your baby full and is also digested quickly, so that you can feed your baby multiple times, as is required for a growing, healthy child. What’s more, breast milk has a natural advantage over formula since formula cannot change its constituency; breast milk, on the other hand, will morph in accordance to your baby’s requirements. For instance, the pre-milk that comes right after delivery is just right for the newborn, and the full milk that comes later on is much higher in colostrums and sugar.
Good for the mother
The mother benefits a lot as well from breastfeeding her baby. To begin with, breastfeeding mothers have a quick and easier recovery than women who do not breastfeed their children. This is because the body releases oxitocin when the baby nurses, and that helps in reducing the blood loss that is a common factor after delivery. Breastfeeding also helps bring the uterus back to normal size sooner; if you do not breastfeed, it will take 10 weeks approximately, while breastfeeding gets the uterus back in shape in around 6 weeks. And not least of the benefits is the delaying of menstruation. Every woman who has given birth knows that the monthly cycle comes back with a vengeance after the nine month hiatus; it is a welcome relief indeed when the cycle is delayed on breastfeeding, thanks to the delay in ovulation by release of prolactin.
Breastfeeding is great for keeping in shape, both for the mother and the baby. In each ounce of breast milk, there are about 20 calories; so, if you feed your baby 20 ounces each day, you will be losing around 400 calories n a daily basis, without any exercise at all. It also does not allow the baby to gain undue weight; while thinness is not a positive sign, being overweight is not good even for babies. The mother’s milk is just the right constituency of fats, sugars, and proteins, so it is unlikely that even a few extra feedings will make the baby overweight. In fact, this benefit lasts almost all life; a person who had been breastfed as a child is unlikely to become overweight at any point in their life.
One of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding is the immensely positive effect it has on the health of the mother as well as the baby. Although conclusive research is yet to prove the matter beyond doubt, a significant number of studies have shown that there is considerable link between reduction in chances of different kinds of cancers in both the mother and the baby. Premenopausal breast cancer, along with ovarian cancers, are two very common cancers that affect women who have delivered children at least once. Breastfeeding also protects the baby from several types of childhood cancers to a significant extent.
Also read: Importance of women in society
It was World Breastfeeding week only recently, and we saw women publicly taking to their cause, breastfeeding their babies on the subway, at bus stations, and at restaurants. the outcry against this natural act does not make sense; if the baby is not timely breastfed, it will lead to untold amount of costs in healthcare, not to mention the miser it will cause.