Motherhood is one of the biggest joys of life. Once a woman becomes a mother, they take on the responsibility of nurturing their baby to adulthood and beyond. This article talks about the benefits of using breast milk. But make no mistake, sometimes it is just not possible and we reserve no judgement for those who choose to use formula.
This is why all loving and responsible mothers want to make the right decisions for their babies. And one of those crucial, life-altering decisions is choosing what to feed their baby.
Breastmilk is nature’s first source of nutrition for all newborn humans. Formulas are nutrition-fortified man-made alternatives for breast milk. Are you wondering what is the best option for your baby? Here’s why you should feed breast milk instead of formula to your baby.
Why Is Breast Milk Crucial to Your Baby’s Health?
‘Why should I use breast milk instead of formula?’ This question must have occurred to many inexperienced moms. Not all mothers feel comfortable breastfeeding. Those who have difficulty breastfeeding or simply don’t like it may have wondered whether they have another option.
Even if feeding formula to your baby seems like a tempting choice, you must know that there is no better alternative to breast milk for your baby.
Health experts believe that breast milk is the perfect food for your infant, and they are right. Breast milk has the perfect nutritional profile to aid your baby’s growth.
Not only is it gentle on your baby’s growing developing body, but it also has the right nutrition to aid development. It was made to feed your baby, which is why it is better absorbed by their system. Here are a few reasons why breast milk is crucial to your baby’s health.
Breast Milk Is Nutritious
Let’s take a look at what breast milk is made of. About 90 percent of breast milk is made of water, which is why you don’t need to give water to your baby in the first six months. If you are healthy, your breast milk will provide all the vital vitamins and minerals your child needs.
Breast milk has carbohydrates, which is the energy source our brain prefers. The carbohydrates found in the milk are in the form of lactose and oligosaccharides. Lactose is milk sugar and gives your baby energy. Oligosaccharides help promote healthy gut function.
Even though lipids make up about four percent of breast milk, they hold more than half the calories your infant gets from breastfeeding. The lipids present in breast milk include cholesterol and essential fatty acids that are needed to help develop your baby’s vision, nervous system, and brain.
Breast milk has protein, which is one of the key building blocks of life. These proteins help build, strengthen, and repair your baby’s body. The proteins found in breast milk are easily absorbed and digested by babies, aiding their growth and development.
Aids in Development
Some components of your breast milk can help protect your baby from infections. Other than all the essential macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, breast milk also has some specific hormones and enzymes your baby needs.
The hormones naturally present in breastmilk are prolactin, thyroid hormones, and growth hormones. These affect your baby’s growth, development, and metabolism. Some of these hormones regulate their blood pressure, stress, and pain response.
There are also some crucial enzymes in breast milk that aid your baby’s digestion and help develop your baby’s immune system.
Prevents Infections and Disease
Breastmilk is naturally equipped to help fight infections, which is why breastfed babies are more likely to avoid severe infections and hospitalization. Since breast milk promotes gut health, it lowers the chance of babies developing digestive issues.
Breastfed babies are also less likely to get lung or ear infections. Even if they get an infection while breastfeeding, it won’t be as serious. This is why premature breastfed babies are less likely to get intestine infections such as necrotizing enterocolitis.
Breastfeeding protects your baby from many diseases and disorders. Breastfed babies have a lower chance of dying from sudden infant death syndrome. They are less likely to get asthma, allergy, and skin problems. It lowers the risk of developing leukemia, diabetes, and obesity.
Breast Milk vs Formula
Is breast milk better than formula? Although formula feeding does have some perks and may be a requirement in some cases, it is not the best option. The most influential factor for the formula is how convenient it is.
Not all moms can breastfeed or provide enough milk for feeding. In such cases, the formula can supplement the baby’s development. Since formula can be fed by anyone, this will also give the baby’s other parent a chance to bond with them.
Even though the formula is made of ingredients targeted to duplicate the nutritious content of breast milk, it will always be lacking. This is because the nutrients in breast milk are naturally designed for easy consumption and absorption by babies.
When you formula-feed your baby, their digestive health will suffer. Breastmilk has enzymes that aid digestion and promotes gut health. This is why formula-fed babies are likely to suffer from poor digestion, gas, constipation, and diarrhea.
Breastfeeding provides some added benefits like enhanced immunity, disease-fighting capacity, and promotion of growth and wellness. You miss out on these when you formula-feed your baby.
Other Reasons to Breastfeed
Other than health, there are a few other benefits of breastfeeding your infant. Learning about these might help you make a better choice for your baby’s growth, development, and well-being. Here are a few other reasons why you might want to consider breastfeeding.
Babies May Become Smarter
A handful of studies have shown that breastfed babies have a higher IQ than formula-fed babies. One such study has debated that breast milk contains a variety of substances that enhance the development of cognitive and psychomotor capabilities of babies.
Even though scientists are yet to fully understand what makes breastmilk superior, most agree that breastfed babies are smarter. The higher nutritional profile helps develop the brain and nervous system in a way that makes breastfed babies more intelligent.
Free and Convenient
A mother’s milk was created for their baby. You produce it free of cost to help nourish your infant. You don’t have to go to a store and spend money to buy it, as you have to with formula.
Breastmilk also happens to be really convenient. Mothers can let their baby drink it right out of their breasts, so there is no hassle of washing bottles or rubber nipples. It is always fresh and you can provide it right in the comfort of your home.
Some mothers have a good flow of milk and can use a pump to ensure that their baby can be fed, even when they aren’t around. Breastfeeding is a cost-free way of ensuring your baby’s nutritional needs.
Deeper Mother-Child Bonding
Babies benefit a lot from the skin-to-skin contact they have with their mothers while breastfeeding. This close contact is great for both the mother and child. It helps the baby feel safe, secure, and loved.
Breastfeeding promotes a strong sense of love and attachment with the baby, helping them develop a stronger bond.
Most nursing mothers cherish the time they spend breastfeeding their infants. The closeness they feel not only helps mothers emotionally but also helps the emotional development of the babies.
Breastfed babies are less stressed and also tend to cry less. They are also less likely to develop childhood illnesses.
Helps Babies Develop a Sense of Taste
Did you know that breastmilk tastes different based on what the baby’s mom has eaten? These changes of taste are great for the baby. Not only is the baby getting nutrition from a wider source of food, but they are also slowly learning about different tastes.
Baby will learn more about the food of their native culture by getting a second-hand taste of their mother’s milk. This will make them more adaptable to solid food once the first six months have passed.
Good for Moms
Birthing mothers are meant to breastfeed. It helps them burn calories, helping them return to their pre-pregnancy weight and shape faster. It also helps shrink the uterus. However, on the downside, it can cause lack of sleep and increased stress, so it is not all fun and games.
Many studies have shown that breastfeeding helps lower the risks of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It lowers the risks of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. Lastly, the capability to nurture their babies helps new moms feel more positive and confident.
Are There Mothers Who Shouldn’t Breastfeed?
While exclusive breastfeeding (up to six months after birth) is recommended for the majority of mothers, in some cases it might be wiser not to breastfeed. In some cases, the baby might have a health condition that requires more nutrition than you can provide.
They might be low on blood sugar or have experienced dehydration, in which case more nutrition might be required. Mothers might be asked to give their babies other supplementary liquids like formula.
In other cases, the mother might be advised to not breastfeed due to certain health problems. Some infections can get passed through breastmilk. If the mother has to take some strong medication or is an addict, they might be asked not to breastfeed.
Also, mothers with high stress and demanding jobs may not be able to breast feed when they go back to work. Even pumping can be impossible for some. Again no judgment if you choose not to do so.
Here is a video from a mother and her feedback on the benefits of breastfeeding:
There are many reasons why you should feed breast milk instead of formula to your baby. Breast milk is more nutritious and has additional health benefits that will aid your baby’s development and lower their risk of infections.
Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding, as it not only strengthens their bond with their baby but also protects them from disease. Unless you or your baby has a medical condition that requires you to not breastfeed, you should consider feeding your baby breast milk.