March 17, 2011

A Mother's Milk: Benefits of Breastfeeding

I never truly appreciated the natural functions of my body until I became pregnant. Alhamdulilah, my appreciation grew tenfold when I started breastfeeding. In my opinion, Allah, the Most High, has made our breast milk a beautiful and powerful gift. It's combined properties are unlike any other, and it's benefit is so great that many try to imitate but as of yet, all have failed to duplicate. As a believer of "breast is best," I've listed a few of the benefits of breastfeeding below:

Benefits for Baby
1. Optimal Nutrition, the Natural Way
No one can deny that breast milk has the most to offer nutritionally than any other food source out there, at least for the first stages of life. Naturally packed with omega-3s, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, breast milk contains all the nutrition that an infant needs to help them grow and thrive. Breast milk is also known to naturally adjust as the child's hunger and growth needs change, providing just the right nutrition for that child at every stage. --La Leche League, What Makes Human Milk Special?

2. Helps Protect Against Illness and Disease
Often times, breastfed babies are sick less than formula babies. This is because breast milk contains live cells, antibodies and many antibacterial properties that are known to strengthen a child's immune system to help them naturally fight off infection. "Human milk has been found to contain 90 different oligosaccharides forming over 900 different chemical structures, each of which can block infection by preventing a particular strain of 
bacteria from sticking to the gut wall." -- La Leche League, The Science of Mother's Milk

Benefits for Mommy
1. Naturally Helps Regulate Hormonal Changes
Breastfeeding releases oxytocin which not only gets the body started in releasing milk to the baby, but also stimulates uterine contractions, helping mommy's body return back to pre-pregnancy size. These contractions also prevent postpartum hemorrhages, something that non-breastfeeding moms are at the highest risk for in the first few days after labor. --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

2. Enhances Bonding and Nurturing
"There is much more to breastfeeding than the provision of optimal nutrition and protection from disease through mother's milk. Breastfeeding provides a unique interaction between mother and child, an automatic, skin-to-skin closeness and nurturing that bottle-feeding mothers have to work to replicate. The child's suckling at the breast produces a special hormonal milieu for the mother. Prolactin, the milk-making hormone, appears to produce a special calmness in mothers." --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

3. Helps Us Stay In Shape
Making milk is no small task for the body. The process of production alone burns 200-500 calories per day on average. This helps breastfeeding moms not only lose weight, but keep it off, too! --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

4. Lowers Risk of Anemia and Helps Space Babies
Exclusive breastfeeding, without substituting formula, pacifiers, or other foods during feeding times, helps delay the menstrual cycle, preserving iron in the mother's body and acting as a natural contraceptive for the first six months after baby is born. --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

Benefits for Society
1. Saves Money
Why spend on bottles, nipples, formula, and warmers? Breast milk is ready for baby every and any time he or she needs it. It's got all the right stuff at just the right temperature for absolutely FREE.

2. Reduces Waste
Talk about being green! "For every three million bottle-fed babies, 450 million empty tins end up in landfills. Few are recycled. Human milk, on the other hand, requires no transportation, only a little more food for the mother, and can stand covered, in a clean cup, for up to six hours without becoming contaminated. This is true even in warm climates. Also, the production of breast milk creates no waste in need of disposing." -- La Leche League, Nursing the World Back to Health

3. Promotes Healthier Families
"Breastfed babies are far healthier than their bottle-fed peers. This is not because there is anything inherently dangerous in formula, only that formula can't possibly replace all the benefits of human milk. Human milk is alive with beneficial bacteria that aid an infant's digestion and help prevent diarrhea (a frequent cause of infant death in developing countries), and with immunoglobulins that protect infants from disease. It is rich with all the nutrients that the human body requires for proper development...In one study, a group of infants fed artificial milk had $68,000 in health care costs in a six-month period, while an equal number of nursing babies had only $4,000 worth. In Brazil, where medical care is not readily available, an artificially fed baby is 14 times more likely to die than an exclusively breastfed baby, and at least four times more likely to die than an infant receiving both mother's milk and artificial milk." -- La Leche League, Nursing the World Back to Health

1 comment:

  1. Nice article.I am really agree about benefit breastfeeding. I always appreciate people who can give exclusive breastfeeding for her babies or commit to support breastfeeding.There's a story about Salma Hayek who breastfeeds a hungry african child from mother who was unable to provide milk for her malnourished one-week-old son. This story really inspire me. She’s different with another actrees. Salma hayek deep concern about important and benefit breastfeeding, so without hesitation, she breastfeeds a stranger baby to help him. It will be motivation story for all.