Breastfeeding is a fundamental health decision that influences the optimal health of the mother and infant. This is the foundation for the advised infant nutrition. Therefore, public health plus administrative policies aim to create an environment that supports mothers to start and continue breastfeeding and reduce factors that dampen and ultimately mess about with the initiation of breastfeeding.
To optimise the number of women who will successfully take up breastfeeding, it is crucial to restrict the use of infant formula to scenarios where either the infant or the mother have health conditions such as infant suffering from galactosemia or maternal AIDS that demand a breastmilk alternative.
Ideally, exclusive breastfeeding should be done for the first six months. Past that, mothers can breastfeed until one year, and even longer if the mother and baby are keen on it. There are so many benefits associated with breastfeeding on the part of the mother and baby. Read on.
Better defense mechanism against infections
Children who are breastfed complain of fewer infections compared to those who are fed formula milk. When a mother breastfeeds, her antibodies and germ-fighting cells are passed on to her baby, in turn, strengthening the baby’s immune system. As a result, the child is less likely to contract infections such as:
- Ear infections
- Respiratory infections
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Good nutritional value
Breast milk is typically referred to as the perfect food for an infant’s digestive system. Some of the components found in breast milk include:
These nutrients are easily digested by the baby. Moreover, breast milk contains natural vitamins and minerals that are important for a newborn. The only exclusion is vitamin D. That’s why breastfed babies should start getting Vitamin D supplements within the first two months and onwards until the infant consumes sufficient milk or vitamin D-fortified formula.
A blend of tastes
Breastfeeding mothers typically need at least 300 additional calories each day, which can be extracted from a selection of confinement food menu in Singapore. As a result, breastfed babies are introduced to more than one taste courtesy of their mothers’ breast milk, which contains a host of flavours based on the Chinese confinement food their mothers have been eating. Babies can taste the foods of their immediate society and readily accept solid foods.
Unlike the cost of formula, breast milk is free of charge. Unless you decide to pump breast milk and feed it to your newborn, you don’t need any bottles, nipples among other supplies that could be expensive. Given that breastfed kids are less likely to contract infections and fall sick, this means fewer trips to the hospital, so less money paid for treatment and prescribed medicine.
There are no last-minute rushes to the store to buy formula milk. Breast milk is constantly fresh and available regardless of your location. Moreover, when you breastfeed, you don’t have to wash or warm up any bottles or nipples in the middle of the night.
Skin to skin contact
Touch is crucial for the survival of any mammalian. Skin-to-skin contact allows mothers and newborns to apply all of their senses to nurture this new and important relationship. Through the skin-to-skin contact, the mother can learn about his or her baby’s behaviour including signs of fullness, hunger, discomfort, joy, and so on. Overall, this boosts communication between the mother and child as well as help infants inculcate a sense of trust and security.
Beneficial for mothers as well
Mothers develop a sense of confidence when they are able to nourish their babies successfully. Breastfeeding also sheds calories and contracts the uterus, so nursing mothers can return to their normal body shape and weight in a short period. Moreover, breastfeeding is believed to reduce the maternal risk of conditions such as:
- Breast cancer
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Uterine cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Breastfeeding might be easy from the start for some moms while for others, it might take some time to get accustomed to. Patience is needed if moms and babies want to get to grips with the routine of breastfeeding. At first, many mothers might feel unease with breastfeeding. However, with proper support, education, and practice, any nursing mom can prevail over this.