Breast is best – but just what are its benefits?
WORDS CHIA YING MEI
You’ve heard “breast is best” for babies, but did you know mums benefit too? Breast milk is an amazing food for your baby, so much so that the World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life and complementing breastfeeding with nutritious food up to the age of two years or beyond. If you need some convincing that breastfeeding is the way to go, read on!
1. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies.
Why feed your baby milk from a different species when you’re producing something that is perfectly made for your precious new bundle of joy? Breast milk contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for your baby’s growth and development. You can’t purchase this goodness with money, giving rise to the nickname “liquid gold”. Incredibly, your body will tailor the nutritional composition of the breast milk you produce to suit your baby at every stage of growth.
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2. Breast milk protects your baby.
A newborn baby is extremely vulnerable to the germs and other nasties once they are out of the womb as their immune systems haven’t had a chance to develop.
Breast milk, however, can help keep illnesses at bay.
This is due to the abundance of antibodies, proteins
and immune cells found in breast milk.
What does this mean for your baby? Well, your breast milk can help to prevent microorganisms from taking root in the body’s tissues. It can reduce the supply of minerals and vitamins that harmful bacteria feast on, or even attack microbes directly. This is why breast milk is also really good for the skin! Try giving your baby a milk bath if you have any excess breast milk and revel in that silky soft baby skin.
3. Breast milk is easily digested.
This places less stress on your baby’s brand new digestive system. They’re able to more efficiently absorb the nutrients they need, lowering risks of constipation, diarrhoea and wind – barring sensitivities and allergies to food that mummy is eating, of course. This does mean that your baby will get hungry faster, but it also means your baby will poop less as there is less waste to excrete. It isn’t uncommon for exclusively breastfed babies to comfortably go for days without a poo.
4. Breastfed babies are less likely to be picky eaters.
Breast milk is a living food, and the composition changes slightly depending on what you eat. This means that your baby will be tasting a little of the chicken curry or garlic bread that you had for lunch. By exposing your child to varied tastes as an infant, you give them a head start on widening their palate.
Studies have shown that breastfed babies tend to
be more adventurous eaters, and who doesn’t want
a child who is willing to try different foods?
5. So Convenient.
No need to bring milk bottles out. No lugging hot water flasks around. No worrying if you packed enough milk powder for the day. All you need are your boobs which will provide all the milk your baby needs. If you master nursing in a carrier, you won’t even have to pause whatever you’re doing since you’ll have your hands free while nursing!
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