By Laura Slatalla, ASU Nutrition Student
Breastfeeding creates healthy babies and mothers, as well as a financial benefit. The current recommendation for breastfeeding is exclusively for 6 months before introducing any solids, and at least until 12 months before weaning when mom and baby are ready. Sometimes breastfeeding can be difficult at first, especially without the proper support, but taking a look at the powerful benefits of breastfeeding is encouraging.
A mother’s milk has the perfect nutritional balance for her child, providing the right amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It contains fore-milk, which is sweeter and watery. This is followed by hind milk, which has more protein and satisfies hunger. As your baby grows the proportions of all these nutrients change to match its needs. Formula mimics breast milk, but is missing important components like lactoferrin and lipases. Lactoferrin help babies digest iron and protects the gut. Lipases aide in digesting fats.
Breast milk also contains antibodies that allow a baby to borrow from their mom’s immune system, so they get less colds throughout the first year. The immune benefits extend beyond the first year too. The powerful immune benefits also protect against some diseases and may reduce a risk of allergies. Studies also show that breastfed babies have a lowered risk of obesity later in life compared to formula-fed children. Formula-fed babies are often overfed and encouraged to finish the bottle, while breastfeeding babies can just break their latch when the flow of milk has slowed down and they’re full.
For a consideration on economics, formula costs can rise to over $1,200 in the first year, on the low end. That’s not accounting for overfeeding and more expensive formulas.
Even if a variety of limitations keep you from traditional breastfeeding, you can still make an effort for your child to have your breast milk. Many a full-time, away-from-the-home career women use a breast pump to pump their own milk. They are still giving their child the full health benefits of breast milk and saving on the cost of formula.
There are definite benefits to nursing for the mother as well. When a baby is nursing, a hormone called oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is often called the cuddle hormone. When it is released after birth the uterus contracts and helps to slow down bleeding and shrink the uterus back to the original size, and it can also help support bonding between the mother and the new infant. Breastfeeding is skin to skin, another important factor in bonding. Producing milk burns around 300 to 500 calories a day and is much easier than the gym.
Here’s the list of benefits:
- Perfect nutrition individualized for each baby
- Baby borrows mom’s immune system
- Contains some things only found in breast milk
- Saves money
- Reduces risk of diseases, obesity, and allergies
- Increases bonding
- Burns extra calories
The beginning of a nursing relationship can be hard. A mother needs support, but once everything is going smoothly, it’s beautiful and satisfying and has its perks, so stick with it. A baby and mother will both be happy and healthier for it.
Editor’s Note: Although we understand the benefits of breastfeeding, circumstances may prohibit your own opportunity in this area. Today’s formulas are produced to provide your child with the most balanced nutritional content.