Benefits to the Mother
Breastfeeding benefits the mother in many ways, such as:
- It may help to shrink back the Uterus to Pre-pregnancy size
- It also induces to lose Pregnancy weight
- It reduces the risk of Pre-menopausal Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Osteoporosis.
- It decreases the risk of Uterine Bleeding and Anemia
One should consult a Pediatrician for all issues related to Breastfeeding.
A mother may face the following challenges while Breastfeeding:
- Sore Nipples: Breastfeeding mothers often experience sore nipples during the first few weeks of Breastfeeding. The mother should ensure that the baby latches on correctly. She should also make sure to nurse the baby with each breast fully enough to empty the Milk Ducts.
- Stress & Worries about Producing Enough Milk: Mothers often worry about not being able to produce sufficient milk. In such situations, mothers undergo an emotional turmoil and often resort to formula milk or water. However, one should nurse the baby with Breast Milk for the first six months, and avoid using formula milk.
- Dry & Cracked Nipples: Mothers may experience dry and cracked nipples while Breastfeeding. Avoid use of soaps or perfumed creams as it may tend to aggravate the problem.
- Breast Engorgement: Congestion of Blood Vessels in the breast results in Breast Engorgement. This traps the fluid in the breast making it hard, painful, and swollen.
- Breast Infection (Mastitis): When bacteria enter the breast through cracked nipples, it may result in Mastitis.
Other common challenged faced by Breastfeeding mothers include Inverted Nipples and Blocked Ducts.
Precautions during Breastfeeding
In some cases, Breastfeeding may cause harm to the infant. Breastfeeding is not advisable in the following circumstances:
- If the mother is HIV Positive
- If the mother is receiving Chemotherapy treatment for Cancer
- If the mother has active and untreated Tuberculosis
- If the mother is using illegal drugs, such as Marijuana or Cocaine
- If the baby has Galactosemia, a condition in which the baby cannot tolerate natural sugar present in Breast Milk
- If the mother is under medication for Migraine Headaches, Arthritis, or Parkinson’s Disease
Mothers should seek medical help in the following eventualities:
- Unusual Redness, Swelling, Tenderness of Breasts
- No gain in weight of the baby
- Not being able to produce enough Breast Milk
- Unusual Discharge or Bleeding from Nipples
Dietary Requirements of the Mother
Breastfeeding mothers should take proper care of their diet. The food consumed by the mother passes on to the baby through Breast Milk. While Breastfeeding, one should stringently avoid the intake of alcohol. Excess intake of caffeine may cause irritability and restlessness in babies.
Breastfeeding mothers should also avoid fish high in mercury, and limit the intake of fish low in mercury. Mothers should focus on imbibing good nutrition, taking proper rest, and staying well hydrated.
Doctors recommend exclusive Breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. Breastfeeding provides several benefits to the mother and the child. Since Breast Milk is a unique combination of nutrients, it helps the baby to fight against various infections. The physical closeness and eye contact between the mother and the infant generates feelings of emotional bonding and security.
Benefits to the Infant
Following are the benefits which the infant derives from Breast Milk:
- It is easily digestible by the baby and hence Breastfed babies are rarely constipated
- It is the perfect mix of Vitamins, Fat, Protein, Minerals, Enzymes, & Sugar, and provides the ideal nutrition to the infant.
- It reduces the risk of occurrence of Allergic Reactions, such as, Asthma and Eczema
- Presence of Antibodies in Breast Milk equips the baby to fight viruses and bacteria
- Antibodies in Breast Milk also help in protecting the baby from illnesses, such as, Cold, Gastroenteritis, Urinary Infections, Ear Infections, Respiratory Illnesses, Diarrhea, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Breastfeeding helps in maintaining the body temperature of the baby
- Insulin present in Breast Milk helps in creating fat which makes it easier for the baby to gain weight.
- Fatty Acids present in Breast Milk are imperative for the Brain Development of the baby
- Breast Milk is extremely essential for Low-Birth Weight babies and Premature babies
- Stool of Breast-Fed babies is mild smelling
- Breastfeeding during or post Immunization may help in soothing the baby
Benefits to the Child in Early Years of Life
Breastfeeding provides the following benefits during childhood:
- Breast-fed babies are less likely to contract serious illnesses, such as, Juvenile Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Heart Disease, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, and Leukemia
- Breast-fed children have higher IQ scores
- Breastfeeding aids in strengthening the Immune System and helps in improving the normal immune response to certain vaccines
Benefits to the Child in Later Years
A Breast-fed child derives benefits of Breastfeeding even as he grows older:
- Breast-fed children have fewer Dental Cavities throughout their lives. This is possible because of the unique sucking action required during Breastfeeding.
- Exposure to Cholesterol and Asthma is relatively less for Breast-fed children
- Breast-fed girls are at a lesser risk of Breast Cancer
- Breast-fed children are less likely to become obese.
- Breastfeeding induces Cognitive Development and children may develop fewer Psychological, Behavioral, and Learning Issues.