Importance of Breastfeeding
My baby is eight months old, and I am now at a stage where I am ready to fully wean him. And it will be a tough few weeks. Even though he had solids introduced at four months of age, and eats three meals plus snacks, he still needs to feed before nap times.
It just got me thinking that there are still many who chose not to breast feed their babies, and I am trying not to judge but our bodies were made to do this. I understand it if it is physically impossible because of illness or you need to go back to work. But if you are a stay at home, I think it is in the best interest of both the mother and the baby to choose to breast feed. Even a lot of working moms store expressed milk that can be fed to the baby by the caregiver.
Sure, a baby on bottle is easier to handle, as anyone can prepare the formula to feed him. And it gives the mother the freedom to do regular things like get a manicure or a haircut. The overall benefits of breastfeeding however are far greater:
- Breastfeeding mothers burn an additional 500 calories a day, and it aids in losing the pregnancy weight
- It is specifically tailored for your baby with the perfect mix of vitamins, protein and fat
- It is also cost-effective
- Associated with better mental development in babies
- Increases immunity against diseases such as diarrhea
- Reduces the risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer in mothers
- Protects babies from developing allergies
- Associated with lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Reduces risk of postpartum depression
- Strengthens the bond between mother and the baby and makes her more nurturing towards her baby due to the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin
I had personally planned on exclusive breastfeeding for first six months, but due to the fact that my baby gained fewer than 500 grams after his fourth month, our pediatrician recommended introducing solids. And since then he has continued a steady weight gain. The World Health Organization recommends six months of exclusive breast feeding, and then to continue up to a year or more along with nutritional solids. How long one continues to breastfeed is really up to what is comfortable to both the mother and the baby.
*Written By Pallavi Dhir