“Breastfeeding for 20 months’ decreases risk of ovarian cancer by 50%.” “Breastfeeding burns up to 500 extra calories a day.” “Breastfeeding reduces infant mortality by 15%.” These are just some stories that back breast feeding, but what are the actual advantages for breastfeeding compared to formula feeding.
Breast milk is the best nutrition you can offer your baby, it offers health benefits to both mum and baby. It is specially designed for all your child’s nutritional needs in the first six months of life. There is a never-ending debate over whether breast is best or formula milk can also provide what a baby needs. A mother’s milk has had the edge when it comes to boosting a baby’s immune system, shown to protect against obesity, eczema and tummy bugs.
Breastfeeding offers many things that formula feeding can’t such as colostrum. Colostrum is yellowish fluid rich in proteins that your breasts will secrete for the first 2-4 days of your baby’s life. These proteins are essential to the development of the immune system. The protein is easily digested and absorbed by the body, Colostrum is designed to help your baby along for the first few days of life.
Breastfeeding also has may health benefits for your baby as breast milk contains both fats; saturated and unsaturated, as well as cholesterol, important for brain and nerve tissue development. As well as the fat in breast milk is more digestible than in formula, breast milk gives more energy than formula. Breast milk contains a full range of vitamins and minerals, there is increased resistance to infections, due to the large amounts of antibodies in breast milk. It also decreases the risk of allergies and lactose intolerance. Breastfeeding helps the baby to develop its jaw and teeth. Babies benefit emotionally, because they are held more and there is time for mother-baby bonding.
Breastfeeding also has benefits for mum as well. The baby’s sucking causes a mum’s uterus to contract and reduces the flow of blood after birth. Also during lactation, the period stops offering a form of contraception. Mums who breastfeed tend to lose weight and achieve their pre-pregnancy figure more easily than mothers who bottle feed. Also if they breastfeed they are less likely to develop breast cancer later in life. Breastfeeding also cost lest than formula feeding.
Breast is best for many, but the reality is that many women have to go back to work soon, so the breast milk supply will dwindle. It’s also very calming for the baby, not to mention portable, you don’t have to worry about not having enough formula or bottles. The decision to breast feed or formula feed remains your choice. However, breast milk is undoubtedly the best nutrition you can give your baby, with added benefits for a mother.
By Jordan Harrop