The Breastfed Baby

Written by Andy

From New York State Department of Health [1]:

Why is Breastfeeding Important for your Baby?

Breast milk helps keep your baby healthy.

  • It supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
  • It protects against allergies, sickness, and obesity.
  • It protects against diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
  • It protects against infections, like ear infections.
  • It is easily digested – no constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach.
  • Babies have healthier weights as they grow.
  • Breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests.

Breast milk changes constantly to meet babies’ needs.

The milk changes in volume and composition according to the time of day, nursing frequency, and age of baby to promote healthy growth. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby.

Breast milk is always ready and good for the environment.

  • It is available wherever and whenever your baby needs it.
  • It is always at the right temperature, clean and free.
  • No bottles to clean.
  • Breastfeeding has no waste, so it is good for the environment.

Why is Breastfeeding Important for You?

Mothers who breastfeed:

  • Have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer
  • May find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant
  • Strengthen the bond with their children

Making it Work – You Can Do It!

Some helpful hints:

  • Breastfeed soon after birth and breastfeed frequently 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period.
  • Hold your baby skin-to-skin.
  • Keep your baby with you in the hospital.
  • Do not give a pacifier or bottle until breastfeeding is well established.
  • Give only breast milk.

From Healthline:

Breastfed babies

Generally, breastfed newborns gain weight faster than formula-fed babies for the first 3 months of life.

One likely reason for this is that breast milk is a dynamic and ever-changing food, composed of the exact nutrition a baby needs at that stage. On the other hand, formula is a static composition of ingredients.

For the same reason, the amount of pumped breast milk a baby receives in a bottle will sometimes differ than the amount of formula a baby of the same age receives.

When formula-fed babies need more calories, they must drink more at each feeding. Breast milk, however, will change in its composition and caloric content depending on the baby’s needs.

On average, breastfed babies drink around 800 millilitersTrusted Source (27 ounces) of milk per day in the first 6 months of life. As a rule of thumb, feed your breastfed baby on demand so they receive all the calories and nutrients they need.

From WebMD

Many medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice, or water) for 6 months. After the introduction of other foods, it recommends continuing to breastfeed through the baby’s first year of life.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby

Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow. And it’s all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.

Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. What’s more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It’s been thought to lower the risk of diabetesobesity, and certain cancers as well, but more research is needed.

Breastfeeding Benefits for the Mother

Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower your risk of osteoporosis, too.

Since you don’t have to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples, or warm bottles, it saves you time and money. It also gives you regular time to relax quietly with your newborn as you bond.

From the CDC:

Infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of:

Breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Ovarian cancer.
  • Breast cancer.

“Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby. We must do more to create supportive and safe environments for mothers who choose to breastfeed.”

Dr. Ruth Petersen, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

From Brightside [6]

The World Health Organization recommends that mothers breastfeed for up to 6 months, and then continue doing it for up to 2 years or more, along with introducing other foods. And there are certainly many health benefits that come along with this process, both for the children and their mothers![6]

Better health and stronger immune system.

Breast milk is high in white blood cells, which are immune cells. This means that extended breastfeeding can prolong the time your baby gets immune system boosts directly from you. Furthermore, your breast milk can adapt to what your baby needs, and will contain the right antibodies to fight off various infections.

Additionally, the quality of your breast milk gets better with time, so the longer you keep breastfeeding, the more health benefits it can bring to your child. And those benefits last even after you stop nursing. All in all, breastfeeding for 12 months or more has been shown to improve health and reduce the risk of certain diseases.[6]

Positive effects on brain function and behavior.

The way you child’s microbiota develops can affect their brain functions and regulate complex behaviors. Breastfeeding helps bolster the baby’s formative microbiome by providing the necessary nutrients. Several studies have even linked breastfeeding to higher intelligence, although it is only an association, and there are many other factors that contribute to a child`s intelligence in a much more significant way. However, breast milk does contain nutrients, such as DHA, that can positively affect your baby’s developing brain.[6]

Healthy gut microbiome

Our microbiome, which is important for our development, nutrition, and immunity, is influenced by breastfeeding. And the baby’s developing microbiome needs digestive bacteria to develop properly, which your breast milk can provide. Breast milk actually contains a wide diversity of microbes, which are beneficial for your baby’s maturing bacterial flora. So the longer you keep nursing, the stronger your child’s microbiome becomes.[6]

Better sleep patterns

Breastfeeding can improve sleep-wake rhythms in infants. Throughout the day, the chemical composition of your breast milk doesn`t stay the same, so the levels of certain chemicals change. For example, while the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep, is secreted during the night in adults, this doesn’t happen in infants. This hormone has a relaxing effect, and the breast milk that contains it helps improve your baby’s sleep and reduce colic.[6]

Balanced nutrition

The longer you breastfeed, the more your milk changes. It does so to provide better nutrition to your baby’s changing needs. A study has shown that after one year of lactation, breast milk has higher levels of fat and energy contents, which can significantly and positively contribute to your child`s diet.[6]

Maternal bonding

According to a study, women who breastfeed longer show more maternal sensitivity, even later in their children`s lives. This strong bond can help mothers read their children’s cues and be more flexible in their own behavior. [6]

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