Most women have a natural urge to breastfeed. It simply feels like the natural thing to do.
And there are very few women who are not physically equipped to breastfeed. It doesn’t matter if your breasts are tiny, they are still going to be able to produce enough milk to feed and sustain your baby.
So what are the advantages and benefits of breastfeeding?
1. Breastfed babies are less susceptible to illness than bottle fed babies with fewer reported cases of gastro-enteritis, chest infections and urinary and ear infections. All of the mother’s antibodies to viral and bacterial infections are found in colostrum, the fist milk made by the breasts. So a newborn baby not only thrives on the protein-rich colostrum, she is also protecting herself as the antibodies flow into her system and give her automatic immunity too.
Breast milk is also proven to reduce the risk of childhood diabetes and allergic conditions such as eczema. Various studies have also found other advantages and benefits to breastfeeding such as breastfed children being less likely to become obese later in life.
2. Breast milk is especially important for the development of the nervous system in premature babies as it contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are key for a baby’s brain development.
3. Breast milk has exactly the right balance of minerals and proteins for a baby (including sodium) while being high in polyunsaturates and low in cholesterol. Basically it is a miracle food.
4. Breastfeeding is good for mum’s figure and helps a woman lose most of the baby fat she may have accumulated during pregnancy. Its not true that breastfeeding causes breasts to lose their shape and firmness. If the breasts do change shape it is usually through pregnancy not feeding.
5. Breastfeeding releases the oxytocin hormone which causes the uterus to shrink, helping the waistline to return to its pre-pregnancy shape.
6. It’s so convenient. For many mums this advantage and benefit of breastfeeding should come at the top of the list. The ease of night feeding by breast (rather than having to go to the kitchen to warm a bottle) cant be underestimated. Dad can still help out sometimes by passing you baby so you can stay snuggled under the duvet while baby has her feed. And when you are out and about all you need is a quiet corner where you can sit and breastfeed so you don’t have to carry too much paraphernalia with you at all times.
7. The stools and occasional regurgitated milk from a breastfed baby don’t smell anywhere near as unpleasant as those from a bottle fed baby. There’s an almost earthy, organic smell rather than a pungent one.
8. Many mums say that babies who are breastfed have less wind than those fed by bottle.