Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural process that nurtures and nourishes a baby. It’s a time for a mother to bond with her baby, share affection, and provide the best possible start in life. The warmth and comfort of a mother’s embrace, the sound of her heartbeat, and the soothing sensation of nursing all contribute to the beauty of breastfeeding. Beyond the physical benefits, breastfeeding also provides a sense of empowerment and accomplishment for the mother, as she can meet her baby’s needs in a way that no one else can. The beauty of breastfeeding lies in its simplicity, its ability to promote love and intimacy, and its potential to shape a child’s health and development for a lifetime.
Here, we’ll explore the many benefits of breast milk and why it’s so important for your baby’s growth and well-being.
Provides your baby with colostrum in the first few days
Your breast milk contains everything your baby requires for the first six months of life, in exactly the right amounts. Its composition changes in response to your baby’s changing needs, particularly during the first month of life. During the first few days after birth, your breasts produce colostrum, a thick, yellowish fluid. It’s high in protein, low in sugar, and packed with antioxidants. It cannot be replaced by a formula. Colostrum is the excellent first milk that assists the growth of your newborn’s immature digestive tract. As your baby’s stomach grows, your breasts begin to produce more milk after a few days.
Colostrum is more than just your baby’s first milk after birth. It contains a high concentration of nutrients and antibodies to help fight infection and protect your baby. It offers a powerful, one-of-a-kind immunity that only it can provide. Because your baby only requires a small amount of colostrum, it also assists them in learning to suck, swallow, and breathe during feeding.
Helps your baby prevent and fight infections
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight viruses and bacteria, which is especially important during the vulnerable early months. Other proteins, fats, sugars, and even white blood cells are found in breast milk and help fight infection in a variety of ways. They are especially beneficial in the fight against gastrointestinal infections because breast milk travels directly to the stomach and intestine when your baby eats. The various components of breast milk work directly within the intestine before being absorbed and reaching the rest of the body. Breast milk contains antibodies from you, which helps your baby develop a strong immune system and protects them from illnesses. It aids in the prevention of childhood and adult obesity.
Promotes your baby’s healthy weight gain
Breastfed babies have a slight advantage in weight gain shortly after birth, though their overall weight gain in the first year is typically slower than formula-fed babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Breast milk is a dynamic and ever-changing food that contains the exact nutrition your baby requires at that stage. A formula, on the other hand, is a fixed combination of ingredients. Breastfed babies have more leptin – an important hormone in the regulation of appetite and fat storage – in their systems than formula-fed babies. Your breastfed baby will be able to self-regulate their milk intake as well. They are better at eating only until they are full, which influences healthy eating habits.
Plays a vital role in your baby’s physical development
Breast milk influences physical development in your baby, such as bone growth, muscle development, and weight gain. It also supports the development of your baby’s digestive system and boosts their brain’s overall development. Many experts believe that breastfeeding can enhance your child’s intelligence, memory, judgement, and problem-solving abilities.
Reduces your baby’s risk of chronic diseases
Breastfeeding provides complete nutrition for your baby, including premature and critically ill newborns. Breast milk contains disease-fighting immunoglobulins, which protect your baby from a host of illnesses. The immune systems in newborns are not mature enough to fight off infections which is why it is very important to breastfeed immediately after birth.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, breastfed infants have a lower risk of:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Severe lower respiratory disease
- Acute otitis media (ear infections)
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhoea/vomiting)
Improves your bond
Breastfeeding is a powerful and intimate experience that creates a deep and lasting connection between you and your baby. The physical proximity between you and your baby fosters bonding and creates a sense of comfort and security for the baby – which also helps in establishing trust for your baby. When you breastfeed, your body releases hormones such as oxytocin, which is often referred to as the “love hormone.” This hormone stimulates feelings of love, bonding, and relaxation in both your baby and you. Breastfeeding also provides an opportunity for you and your baby to spend quality time together, promoting intimacy, and building a strong emotional connection that can last a lifetime.
Helps your baby sleep
The most intriguing feature of breastmilk is that it changes composition throughout the day and night, personalising the hormones and nutrients for your baby. Through cortisol and melatonin—the hormones responsible for our sleep-wake cycle—it aids in the development of a circadian rhythm in your baby. Pretty much like a tiny clock for your baby.
Though breastfed and formula-fed babies are just as likely to wake for milk during the night, breastfed babies get back to sleep sooner. When your baby breastfeeds, the oxytocin produced in your body causes your little one to feel sleepy. Other hormones and nucleotides in your milk facilitate healthy circadian rhythms in your baby (sleep-wake patterns).
Breastfeeding has numerous health benefits and is one of the most effective ways to ensure the health of your child. Whatever you decide, it is the best start you can give your newborn. myPediaclinic healthcare team is the best resource for guiding you to the best methods and options for your motherhood journey. Consult our Pediatric Nutritionist for advice.
myPediaclinic – the best Pediatric clinic in Dubai
Our experienced award-winning Pediatricians at myPediaclinic in Dubai Healthcare City help you navigate life with a new baby by guiding you with the best breastfeeding techniques and offer support and advice on how to maintain a healthy milk supply. Our best Pediatricians in Dubai play a vital role in promoting the health and well-being of both mother and baby. Plus, we also help mothers understand the importance of breastfeeding and provide information on its many benefits for both mother and baby.