Breastfeeding is such a great thing that nature has created. But it’s not easy to breastfeed exclusively, and even less so if the mother heads back to work. Knowing the many difficulties, it takes a whole lot of determination to keep on breastfeeding. Many times, I had wanted to give up (especially when breastfeeding my twins!). But thinking of all the benefits of breastfeeding that both my children and I get, I press on. Through sweat and blood (literally!), I toil on, alongside many other breastfeeding mothers, because we know it is the best present we can give to our child. With breastfeeding, I mean direct latching. Feeding breastmilk does not totally equate to breastfeeding, as you will understand after reading my points below. From all the many benefits of breastfeeding, I list here the top 5 that encourage me the most through my (still ongoing) breastfeeding journey.
- Breastmilk is adjusted according to baby’s needs. When baby is latched on, his sucking motion creates a vacuum. This in turn creates a backflow of his saliva back into the milk ducts. The mother’s body detects the baby’s saliva, including any form of infections, and reacts accordingly. The next milk feed is adjusted according to the information transmitted to the mother’s body through the baby’s saliva. This includes varied nutrients as the baby grows, and any anti-bodies if the baby is fighting an infection. As my husband said, this is nature’s way of increasing an infant’s survival rate! This real-time communication makes every baby’s breastmilk unique and personalized! This fact of breastfeeding amazes me everytime I think about it. God thought about every single little detail. Really.
- Breastfeeding taps into mummy’s fat reserves. Yes, that means weight loss. A pregnant mother naturally puts on weight as a way for the body to store enough fats to make breastmilk for the baby later on. If we defy nature’s call to breastfeed, we do not tap into those fat reserves meant for feeding the baby, and thus weight loss is more difficult post partum. Nature put on weight for the baby, nature will help shed weight for the mummy.
- Breastmilk gives much more than formula milk. Formula has fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that the baby needs to grow. It is even fortified with higher levels of iron, calcium, DHA, etc. However, there are many things that money just cannot buy. There are things that the formula milk companies just cannot add into the milk – at least not with the existing technology. This includes a variety of antibodies from the mother (unique to each mother and child pair), and all kinds of good bacteria that will help the baby’s gut system develop and mature. Some of these stay with the child throughout his life, and so a breastfed child has a stronger immune system, and lower risk of obesity and diabetes later in life.
- Breastfeeding increases baby’s security. While latching, we naturally hold the baby very close to our bodies. That warmth, that coziness, that heartbeat, that smell, all contribute to creating a very strong sense of security in the newborn baby. A newborn is suddenly thrown into a cold, strange, new world. Cuddling them helps them calm down and adapt to the new environment. Research has shown that extensive cuddling of infants contributes to secure babies and kids later on. A secure baby is a happy baby. A happy baby means a happy family 🙂
- Best of all, breastfeeding is FREE. Should I say more? I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on formula milk already. More benefits for free, why not? 😉