There are several health reasons why mothers should practise exclusive breastfeeding. Breastfeeding refers to the process of feeding a baby with breast milk from the mother. There is a proper way to go about breastfeeding babies and mothers need to be enlightened about the process.
After delivery, the first thing your doctor or midwife would usually do is endeavor to place the baby on your breast. This has many benefits especially when done within the first hour after delivery.
In this article, we will take a look at the subject of exclusive breastfeeding and the benefits it holds for you and your baby.
Exclusive breastfeeding simply means feeding your baby with just breast milk without any additional food or drink for the first six(6) months of life.
Breast milk is the best food for every baby. It contains all the necessary nutrients needed by your baby’s body in the right proportion, including water.
What is Colostrum?
Your breast milk also contains antibodies that are essential to strengthen your babies immunity to fight infections and diseases. These antibodies are contained in the first breast milk you give your baby called colostrum.
Colostrum is sticky, yellow, high in protein, low in sugar and loaded with antibodies. It helps clean your baby’s stomach and promote a healthy gut.
Most ignorant mothers feel or think colostrum is dirty milk that is coming out from the breast. So they pour it out and clean it up before putting the baby to breastfeed. This is very wrong.
You don’t need to throw any breast milk out before placing your baby at the breast to suck. Colostrum is very essential for every newly born baby.
Benefits of Exclusive Breastfeeding To Mother and Baby
Contains important antibodies
As already stated, breast milk contains antibodies that helps your baby fight any illness or diseases. These antibodies particularly applies to colostrum as earlier mentioned.
Colostrum provides high amount of immunoglobulin A (IgA) as well as other antibodies. IgA protects the baby from getting sick by forming a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat and digestive system.
Keeps your baby healthy
The healthiest babies are those that are exclusively breastfed . Merely looking at an exclusively breastfed baby, you will see from the baby’s physical appearance, clarity of eyes, skin, activities and development.
Promotes your baby’s growth and development
Exclusive breastfeeding helps your child to grow well as expected. It prevents delay in every aspect of your baby’s development including teething, sitting, crawling, standing, walking, talking etc.
Exclusive breastfeeding helps your baby to achieve optimal growth, development and health.
Makes your baby smarter
Study shows that children who were well breastfed experience difference in brain development compared to those children not properly breastfed. This difference may be due to the intimacy, eye contact and touch associated with breastfeeding which is called bonding.
Breastfed babies have higher intelligent scores and are less likely to develop problem with behavior and learning as they age. Their looks becomes brighter and smarter as they grow.
A natural method of family planning
Exclusive breastfeeding delays fertility. It “pauses” menstruation and ovulation by stopping the production of the hormones controlling your menstrual cycle. The pause is nature’s way of ensuring some space between pregnancies. However, this varies with body makeup.
For some women, menstruation cease for up to 6 months after delivery if they practise exclusive breastfeeding. Others may have no menstruation for less than 3 months. Whatever the case may be, immediately you begin to menstruate again, visit your hospital for any family planning method of your choice in order to have a healthy child spacing.
Prevents some cancers
Several studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer later in life. In addition, it helps women return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster and lowers the rate of obesity.
Saves time and money
When you practise exclusive breastfeeding, you don’t need to spend money on baby’s food. You don’t need to calculate how much food your baby needs to eat everyday, and you don’t need to spend time washing or cleaning baby’s feeding utensils.
It eliminates the need and stress of packing baby formula or water bottle when going out for an event. Exclusive breastfeeding also eliminates the stress to boil water or mix baby’s food at the middle of the night.