Breastfeeding is among the most beautiful and natural processes for both newborns and mothers. It has been in practice since the beginning of humanity. This skin-to-skin contact strengthens the connection between mother and her baby, necessitating the significance of breastfeeding and its benefits.
What is Breastfeeding?
Most of you are familiar with breastfeeding, particularly it is usual for mothers. Breastfeeding is the process of feeding the natural breast milk of a mother to a neonate baby or even a toddler. This begins right after birth and can continue for up to 2 years. The body of a female has a natural tendency to feed the baby by the production of milk. This milk is provided to the babies either directly or indirectly to nurse them.
Most mothers go for direct feeding, but there are certainly other ways of breastfeeding too. One of them is mothers using a breast pump to store the milk in a bottle. The milk stored in the bottle is later given to the baby, and this is indirect breastfeeding. The main point of breastfeeding is to provide the warmth of the mother’s touch to the baby. The baby feels safe and nourished at the same time while being in physical contact with the mother.
The Timing of Breastfeeding
It is suggested by WHO that the newborn should be breastfed within the first hour after being born. Early breastfeeding has so many nutritional benefits. Later on, the timing of breastfeeding varies with the age of the kid. In earlier months, the kid needs to be fed after two hours, which makes up to 10-12 times breastfeeding a day. But after six months, the frequency decreases to 6-8 times a day.
How does Lactation Occurs?
The body starts preparing the breasts even before the birth. The breasts are mainly composed of fats, but hormones start preparing the breasts for lactation when pregnancy occurs. These hormones include progesterone, estrogen, and prolactin, along with few other hormones. The preparation of breasts for milk production begins with an increased flow of blood towards the breasts. There is also an increased pigmentation of the areola and nipples and an increase in breast size.
After three months of pregnancy, a yellowish fluid is produced in the breasts. This fluid which is called colostrum comes out soon after delivery. The body starts producing milk after almost thirty hours of birth. Though breastfeeding involves a mechanism of positive feedback response, oxytocin is mainly responsible for lactation.
The Signs of a Hungry Baby
Seeing that there are countless benefits to a baby for breastfeeding, you must treat it as a priority to breastfeed your baby. But how can you know either the baby is hungry or not?
This can be determined by paying attention to the signs your baby is displaying. Babies tend to cry when they are in need to be fed. But there are other certain signs as well, which are:
- Babies open their mouths.
- They move their jaw or head to search the breast
- They put their hand in their mouth
- They start sucking different things
Benefits of Breastfeeding to mom and child
Though breastfeeding is a widely occurring practice but are you familiar with the benefits of breastfeeding? The process of breastfeeding has several benefits for both mother and baby in different aspects. So let’s view a few benefits of breastfeeding long term.
Benefits of breastfeeding for baby
Babies who are fed with breast milk have better nourishment. Benefits to breastfeeding have several implications in emotional, nutritional, biological, and psychological aspects.
1. Psychological Benefits of breastfeeding:
The psychological benefit of breastfeeding a toddler is that he does not become secluded and irritated mentally. They become emotionally anchored and strong. It is also seen that the babies who are breastfed cry less.
The physical contact of mother and baby while breastfeeding is associated with a sense of bonding. When a mother makes skin-to-skin contact with the baby, he feels secure and protected. The same as eye contact between mother and baby gives a sense of love to the baby.
2. Nutritional Benefits of Breastfeeding:
If you are a new mother, you should know that breast milk has more nutritional value than formula milk or other milk. It is high in fat that is healthy for the newborn. Breasts have too much deposition of fats, and it is also incorporated in the milk produced before pregnancy. The cells present in your breasts are called mammary cells, and they make the milk for your babies.
Fat Content: It is a known fact that breast milk contains a significant amount of fat. But you may have heard that the foremilk is low in fat while hindmilk has more fats. This statement is not exactly true! Both types of milk have the exact content of fats, but the difference lies only in storage. Foremilk is present alongside the edges of mammary cells, and hindmilk is present near the nipple area. Hindmilk is not low in fat, but it gets mixed with watery milk from ducts, so the fat content becomes low. That is why if you feed your baby after quite an interval, then hindmilk will be significantly dilute and have low fats.
Lactose Surplus: As we have mentioned earlier, the hindmilk accumulated in nipples gets mixed with the water part of the milk. But that watery part is rich in lactose which is vital for the growth of your baby. And as the fat is very little in this milk, it passes easily through the baby’s digestive system. Your baby will be able to quickly digest the lactose-rich milk.
3. Biological Benefits of breastfeeding:
Strong Immunity: Studies have revealed the health benefits of breastfeeding are long-term in babies. There are natural antibodies present in breast milk that contribute to the increased passive immunity of the baby. Such babies are also immune to chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, leukemia and obesity. They put up an intense fight against infectious diseases, like respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and ear infections.
Stronger Bones: If you want your kids to have stronger bones, breastfeeding at an early age is the best way to do it. Breast milk has a significant amount of calcium and lactose that makes bones strong.
Benefits of breastfeeding for mom
The benefits of breastfeeding aren’t limited to babies. However, mothers benefit a lot as well.
1. Psychological Benefits of Breastfeeding:
Those moms who breastfeed their babies experience feelings of happiness and positivity. This is because breastfeeding causes the release of hormones like prolactin and oxytocin. These hormones stimulate positive senses and reduce stress. This also helps mothers to avoid postpartum depression.
Mothers also experience calmness because of the bond that is developed between the mother and the baby. If you want to understand your baby’s cues, it is recommended to breastfeed them. Because it increases understanding and attachment. It also gives a sense of fulfillment and builds self-esteem in mothers.
2. Physical Benefits of Breastfeeding:
It is proven that breastfeeding is a beautiful gift for mothers well. The mothers who breastfeed their babies have a decreased risk of getting ovarian or breast cancer. Not only this but, breastfeeding mothers can control their weight gain after birth quite easily compared to those who do not breastfeed their babies. It also acts as natural birth control by delaying menstrual periods.
There is another significant benefit of breastfeeding, which is the contraction of the uterus to become normal-sized again.
3. Benefits of breastfeeding long term:
The breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of developing certain severe diseases like:
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Endometrial Cancer
While those moms who do not breastfeed their babies are associated with many health risks and pain in the breasts. They are also at risk of developing postpartum depression. But the mothers who breastfeed their babies regularly develop a feeling of closeness with their kids. This helps them overcome the depression and anxiety following the delivery.
Breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful phenomenon that has been in practice for ages. It is an experience that directly connects mothers with their children. Seeing all the benefits it ensures for both mom and children has been given a lot of importance in the healthy upbringing of a child. You can share your baby’s breastfeeding stories and experiences with us as well.