The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and the baby

Breastfeeding benifits breastfeeding breast feeding benefits breast milk

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beneficial acts a mother can do for her baby. It provides optimal nutrition for infants and is associated with numerous health benefits for both mother and child. For maximum benefit, breastfeeding has to be initiated within half an hour of delivery. 

According to the American Association of Paediatrics and World Health Organisation, exclusive breastfeeding for about the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years of age or longer.

However, despite its many benefits, many new mothers find breastfeeding challenging and daunting. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about breastfeeding, from its benefits to common challenges and how to overcome them.

Benefits of breastfeeding

Breast milk is considered the ideal nutrition for infants, as it contains all the nutrients that a growing baby needs. In addition to providing optimal nutrition, breastfeeding is associated with numerous health benefits for both mother and child. Here are some of the benefits of breastfeeding:

For the baby: 

  • Breast milk contains all the nutrients a baby needs for normal growth and development, in an optimum proportion and in a form that is easily digested and absorbed.
  • Breast milk has a water content of 88% and hence a breastfed baby does not require any additional water in the first few months of life even during summer months.
  • Breast milk contains several protective factors, including immunoglobulins mainly secretory IgA, macrophages, lymphocytes, lactoferrin, lysozyme, and interferon among others. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop infections.
  • Breastfed babies have a lower risk of allergies, ear infections, and orthodontic problems. They have a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and lymphoma in later life.
  • Babies who are breastfed are better bonded to their mothers. Studies have shown that breastfed babies had a higher IQ than those babies who were given other forms of milk.

For the mother: 

  • Breastfeeding releases hormones that help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce the risk of postpartum bleeding. 
  • Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and may help mothers lose weight after giving birth.

Common challenges of breastfeeding

While breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial act, it can also be challenging. Here are some common challenges that mothers may face when breastfeeding:

  • Sore nipples: Sore nipples are a common complaint among breastfeeding mothers, especially in the first few weeks. This can be caused by improper latch or positioning, or by a baby who is not nursing effectively. To prevent sore nipples, ensure that your baby is latching on properly and that you are using proper positioning. If soreness persists, consider using a nipple cream or seeking advice from a lactation consultant.
  • Engorgement: Engorgement occurs when the breasts become overfull and uncomfortable. This can be caused by an oversupply of milk, infrequent feedings, or incomplete emptying of the breasts.To relieve engorgement, try feeding your baby more frequently or expressing milk between feedings. Applying a warm compress to the breasts and analgesics may also help.
  • Low milk supply: Some mothers may struggle with producing enough milk to meet their baby’s needs. A variety of factors, including stress, illness, or certain medications can cause this. To increase your milk supply, ensure you feed your baby frequently and effectively. You may also try pumping between feedings or using certain herbs or medications that can help stimulate milk production.