Breast milk is the best, most complete baby food. No man-made infant formula can beat the perfect combination of fat, proteins, carbohydrates, antibodies, and other nutrients available in human breast milk. What's truly amazing about breast milk is that it changes as your child grows in order to meet your little one's needs at different stages of life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all women exclusively nurse their infants until they are six months old.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that you should not introduce any solid foods or liquids (other than your breast milk) to your baby's diet for the first half year after birth.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends baby exclusively receive breast milk for the first six months of life. That means no other solids or liquids.
Though breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby, it's not always the easiest. Nursing takes time and patience. When you first start, try not to beat yourself up if breastfeeding doesn't come naturally. It is a learned skill that takes time to master.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to you to learn this skill. You can take a prenatal breastfeeding class, or you can consult a breastfeeding reference book. Many hospitals in the United States also have a lactation consultant on staff to help new mothers with any breastfeeding problems they may have.
Keep in mind that if you start your baby off with infant formula, you can't change your mind. It will not be possible to breastfeed.You may have heard that the breast is best. This is indeed true. Infant formula can't rival with the complete and unique nutritional components found in breast milk. The benefits of nursing go above and beyond what formula can provide.
1. Breast milk protects baby from common childhood illnesses. Colostrum, the early breast milk that your body makes during pregnancy and immediately after birth, is rich in nutrients and antibodies that protect your baby from infection and disease. A baby's immune system is still maturing, so he or she needs all the protection that he or she can get to fight off common diseases and infections.
Breast milk is best! Formula can't compete with the nutrition found in breast milk and protection from common illnesses.
Colostrum has high concentrations of an antibody called secretory immunoglobin A, which forms a protective covering on your little one's throat, nose, and intestines to protect the body from germs and infection.
It is impossible for infant formula manufacturers to synthetically replicate this antibody. A mother's body produces secretory immunoglobin A that is specially tailored to her individual baby. The antibody was created to respond to the viruses and bacteria that exist in the mother's body. As a result, the unique secretory immunoglobin A protects the baby from any germs that live in his or her unique environment.
Secretory immunoglobin A is one of the primary reasons that breastfed babies tend to be healthier and experience fewer illnesses than formula-fed infants. This antibody is highest in colostrum, but it is also present in mature breast milk.
Many studies have shown that babies who are nursed have a significantly lower rate of stomach viruses, meningitis, lower respiratory illnesses, and ear infections. When breastfed infants get sick with these illnesses, the cases tend to be milder and less severe than in bottle-fed babies. Exclusively breastfeeding for six months or more gives babies the most protection.
2. Breastfeeding reduces risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Though the cause of SIDS is not clearly understood, it is less common for babies on the breast to die from SIDS. Rates are higher in bottle fed infants. Scientists theorize that the omega-3 fatty acids present in breast milk are essential for myelin (the insulating covering around nerves that allows nerve impulses to travel quicker). This helps the nerves in the respiratory system develop better. In addition, breast milk is gentler on a baby's airways and it is more easily digested than formula. The antibodies in breast milk also help fight chest infections.
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) tends to be less severe in babies who are breastfed. GER can cause babies to have episodes where they stop breathing.
Breastfed babies tend to wake up more often to eat, and while this may be exhausting for you, this may teach your infant to arouse him or herself from sleep when he or she needs to breathe.
3. Breastfeeding is associated with many long-term health benefits. Research studies have shown that breastfeeding's benefits don't stop in infancy. A breastfed child has a lower risk of childhood cancer (possibly due to the antibodies in breast milk), diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn's disease (breast milk is easier to digest than infant formula, which is usually made with cow's milk. It takes time for a baby's stomach to adjust to cow's milk). Allergies and asthma are also lower in breastfed infants.
4. Exclusive breastfeeding may improve cognitive development. Studies have indicated that breastfed children tend to have higher IQs and score better on intelligence tests.
5. Breastfed babies are at lower risk for childhood obesity. Babies fed on the breast tend to gain weight slower than babies on the bottle. This may be due to breast milk containing more leptin (a hormone that regulates appetite) and less insulin (which aids in the creation of fat). In addition, babies nurse until they are no longer hungry. They turn away from the breast when they are full. This may lead to healthier eating habits as they age.
Breastfeeding isn't just advantageous for your little bundle of joy. There are also many benefits for the new mom. 1. Nursing can make life easier.
One of the main benefits of breastfeeding is the convenience of it. When you wake-up for those midnight feedings, you don't need to head to the kitchen to prepare any formula or warm any bottle. There are no bottles or nipples to sterilize. All you need to do is nurse. 2. Breast milk is free.
For families on a tight budget, breastfeeding is the perfect option. Your breast milk is free! Buying formula, bottles, and other feeding supplies can cost upwards of $1,500 annually, possibly more if your baby eats more than average. The nursing mom may need to buy a breast pump and bottles, but these are one-time investments. There will be no running to the store and spending money when you're out of formula. 3. Breastfeeding makes bonding easier.
Babies are soothed and comforted by their mother's touch. Your baby will feel bonded to you, and you will also feel close to him or her. The skin-on-skin contact required in nursing promotes the release of oxytocin (the hormone that triggers relaxation and helps milk flow). Believe it or not, but breastfeeding can relax you and make you feel wonderful.
This release of oxytocin may be the reason that breastfeeding mothers are at lower risk for postpartum depression.
4. Nursing makes postpartum weight loss easier.
Breastfeeding makes losing your weight after delivery easier. You burn calories everytime you feed your baby.
Women who nurse tend to lose their pregnancy weight quicker than mothers who bottle-feed. That's because you burn calories naturally each time that you breastfeed your infant. 5. The health benefits to the mother are numerous.
Breastfeeding doesn't just have health benefits for babies. Studies have linked breastfeeding to decreasing a woman's risk for breast and ovarian cancer. It's not well understood why breastfeeding lowers the risk of these cancers, but it may be due to the fact that breastfeeding suppresses the level of estrogen that a woman's body produces. Nursing may also lower a woman's risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.