Did you know that breastfeeding is essential for the health of the mother and her baby? Many medical experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continuous breastfeeding with introduction of different foods for a minimum of 1 year. Read on to find out about the health benefits of breastfeeding.
Benefits to Baby
1. Breast milk provides the best nutrition for babies
Breast milk contains the right nutritional composition* required for the baby’s growth and development. This composition varies based on the baby’s needs. For instance, colostrum is produced in the first days after birth. It is loaded with antibodies, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals that provide protection against bacteria and diseases as the baby’s immune system develops.
*Additional vitamin D and iron are needed. Seek medical advice on supplementation.
2. Breast milk decreases the baby’s risk of infections and diseases
Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, eczema, respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome.
3. Breast milk promotes healthy weight gain
Breastfed babies are 15%-30% less likely to become obese compared to formula-fed babies. They have more leptin, a hormone essential for regulating appetite and fat storage.
Benefits to Mother
1. Breastfeeding speeds up involution of the uterus
Oxytocin is produced during breastfeeding. This hormone promotes uterine contractions (helps the uterus return to its original shape) and decreases uterine bleeding post-birth.
2. Breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk of specific diseases
Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidaemia and heart disease.
3. Breastfeeding helps with post-natal weight loss
Breastfeeding burns additional calories, which helps women lose pregnancy weight more efficiently.