Breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. Medical experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice, or water) for 6 months. Breastfeeding for a full year should be supplemented with other food such as vegetables, grains, fruits, proteins etc. at 6 months of age.
The decision to breastfeed is very personal. It is also likely to draw strong opinions from friends and family. However, you and your baby are unique, and the decision should be entirely up to you. This overview may help you decide.
What Benefits Breastfeeding has for Your Baby?
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has the best mix of vitamins, protein, and fat - everything a baby needs to grow and it is more easily digested than formula. Antibodies that helps your baby fight off viruses and bacteria are found in breast milk and breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Additionally, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, have been proven to have fewer ear infections respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
Breastfeeding has been linked to higher intelligence in later childhood in some studies. Moreover, the physical closeness, eye contact and skin-to-skin touching, aid in bonding with your baby bond. Breastfed infants tend to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight.
However, if you're unable to exclusively breastfeed your baby for whatever reasons, the type of formula you use matters.
What Benefits Breastfeeding has for You?
Breastfeeding helps in losing pregnancy weight faster by burning extra calories. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which aids in your uterus returning to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
And since you do not have to buy and measure formula, sterilize or warm bottles, it saves time and money. It also provides you regular time to relax quietly with your newborn as you bond.
Things to note when Breastfeeding
If you decide to breast feed, it is advisable that you avoid alcohol consumption as well as any drugs that are likely to interfere with the quality of your breast milk. Always check with your doctor or gynecologist if unsure. In addition, it is useful to note that some strong and highly stimulating type of foods such as coffee, spices, durian, mango etc. that may also affect the taste of your breast or have an affect on your baby.
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