(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)
Breastfeeding is a sacred gift from a mother to her baby that lasts a lifetime. It has been scientifically proven that breast milk is the best natural source of nutrition for your infant’s health, and its benefits are unrivalled. The cells and the antibodies found only in mother’s milk cannot be obtained from any other food source. Together, they play a vital role in immunity build-up of your child from the early stages of life.
The several benefits of breastfeeding are not limited to your child’s growth and development only, but they are also associated with your fair health in later life. You will gradually realise that what’s good for your baby is good for you too and when you follow nature’s course for feeding, you benefit your body too!
Let’s have a look at the many benefits that breastfeeding provides to you and your baby:
Breastfeeding fullfills the ideal need of nutrition for your baby as mother’s milk contains the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals, and vitamins. Also, the composition of mother’s milk changes as per the baby’s requirement of nutrition.
The vital antibodies present in breast milk make your infant’s immunity stronger and help ward off development of many allergies and several diseases. As compared to formula-fed babies, the breastfed babies remain healthier. The first milk called ‘Colostrum’ makes your baby more resistant to infections and diseases in life.
Babies who are breastfed have higher IQ and better cognitive skills than the formula-fed ones. It has been observed that such babies are able to solve various puzzles and problems very early in life. Also, they develop fewer behavioural, psychological, and learning problems when they grow older.
Many studies have established that breastfed babies have lesser chances of developing risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in later stages of life.
Women who breastfeed their babies encounter less instances of breast cancer later in their lives as well as have reduced risks of osteoporosis and ovarian cancer.
The feeding mothers experience a delightful feeling from the physical and emotional communion gained through the nursing of their babies. Breastfeeding causes greater release of hormones like oxytocin in a feeding mother, which not only help her uterus to return to its normal state more quickly but also benefit her by reducing the duration and the pain of postpartum bleeding.
Above all, breastfeeding is the best way to bond with your baby – both emotionally and physically. It helps strengthen the bonding between you two as the ‘tiny little life’ feels safe in the warmth of your arms and remains comfortable knowing that you’re around. These benefits make your baby a superbaby and you a supermom!
If you wish that you breastfeed your baby properly, you might have to make some lifestyle changes and follow a timely schedule of feeding. After delivery, therefore, it is a good idea to consult a Paediatrician.
(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)