Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your child. But as natural as it is, a lot of women are still choosing to go with an alternative. Now this could be for a variety of reasons: from mothers being unable to produce breast milk, to blaming baby formula manufacturers.
Nevertheless, breast milk for your child is still the best choice for both mothers and babies. Here are a few things you should know about breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breast Milk
According to WebMD, breastfeeding has a number of benefits that can give a boost to the child’s early development. Studies have also shown that breast milk is known to lower the chances of childhood leukemia, and other health risks. Other benefits of breast milk include:
For the baby:
- Complete nourishment – You never have to worry about your child’s health, as breast milk provides all the necessary nutrients essential for your child’s well-being.
- Easier to digest – Some baby formulas cause constipation in your baby. And it has been proven that breastfed babies are less likely to be constipated.
- No preparation needed – When your baby starts crying, it only takes a few seconds for it to become very annoying. You have to endure that crying for at least a few minutes while you prepare their bottle. You don’t need time to prepare when you breastfeed. All you need to do is whip out your breast, have your baby latch on, and you’re good to go.
- Can help prevent allergies – Thanks to the antibodies present in breast milk, it can help prevent asthma in children, and can even make their immune system stronger.
- Promote Mothering Behavior – The act of breastfeeding itself can release hormones in your body that can help promote your ‘motherly instincts’. This can help in creating a bond between you and your child.
- Reduce your uterus size faster – After giving birth, your uterus does not immediately go back to its original size. It does so a few weeks after giving birth. However, breastfeeding mothers observe that their uterus shrinks faster as milk production helps to burn more calories.
- Lose pregnancy weight – It is a known fact that you gain weight before and after your pregnancy. Breastfeeding can help mothers lose their pregnancy weight and give them a chance to return to their original weight before the pregnancy, that is, if the mother is exclusively breastfeeding.
- Can help prevent cancer – Cancer claims the lives of so many people each year. Breastfeeding mothers can reduce their chances of developing ovarian and breast cancer thanks to the hormones released when breastfeeding.
How long mothers should breastfeed
Ideally, mothers should exclusively breastfeed within the first six months of their child’s life. But some breast feed for only a few days, weeks or months after birth. Depending on how long you breastfeed, it will have different effects on your child.
Here are the differences according to this study published on Australian Breastfeeding Association website.
- A few days – A few days after child birth, your body produces colostrum. This is early breast milk and is just what your newborn needs to get his digestive system going. Colostrum provides your child early immunization.
- 4-6 weeks – Your baby’s first few weeks of life is the most critical. If you decide to breastfeed him through it, your child will be less likely to catch any diseases. This also helps to reduce any digestion problems. Which is why mothers are encouraged to breastfeed for at least one month after birth.
- 3-4 months – Your child’s immune system is still developing at this point. But his digestive system would have fully developed thanks to breast milk. What’s more, your child is less likely to be affected by ear infections for at least a year.
- 9 months to 1 year – Breastfeeding your child for this long has not only helped reduce cost, but have also helped to fully develop his immune system. A lot of mothers also choose to wean their child after this time, as they are now ready to start eating solid food.
Items you will need when you start breastfeeding
Breastfeeding does not require any preparation, but it does require you to have a few items handy to make it easier for you. Here are a few items moms will need throughout the course of their breastfeeding:
- Nursing Pads – While you are producing milk, sometimes it can leak. You don’t want to walk around with milky nipples staining your shirt. Have nursing pads handy especially when you go out. They are usually available at drug stores and baby supply stores.
- Daytime Nursing Bras – Nursing bras usually have flaps on the front to make it easier to access when your baby needs to be fed. This can be handy as it can help you feed your child faster.
- Hand pump – Keep a healthy supply of breast milk handy at home with a hand pump. This can also help to ease the pain on your breast if any.
- Breastfeeding cover – Do you like your privacy? Consider getting a breastfeeding cover for when you want to feed your child in public. They come in a variety of styles and designs, and can help prevent people from gawking at you while you feed your child.
Choose the more natural way to feed your child in his early stages in life. Breast milk is very natural, and beneficial for both mom and child. If you are unsure on how to go about breastfeeding, your midwife or health clinic are ready to provide you with specialist advice.
You may also find a support group for new mothers in your area where mums share their experiences and support each other with resources and things that have helped them overcome some of the challenges of breastfeeding.
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