Contributed by: Abshsar Faheem
Mammary glands are located in the breast of a female and produce breast milk or mother’s milk. Mother’s milk is the primary source of nutrition for newborns as it contains plenty of fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals. Breast milk or mother’s milk also carries factors that guard your infant against infection and inflammation as well as supports the development of its immune system and the gut microbiome.
When you feed milk to your baby directly through your breast, it is called breastfeeding or nursing. Breastfeeding is the most common way of feeding your newborn baby although mother’s milk can also be pumped and then fed to the baby by the bottle, cup, or spoon. In a preterm baby, who cannot suck the mother’s milk in its early days, Cups are used to feed expressed milk and other supplements as it has resulted in better breastfeeding extent and duration than bottles and tubes.
Breast milk can also be provided by a woman other than the baby’s mother either via donated pumped milk or when a woman nurses a child other than her own at her breast, it is known as wetnursing. Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and the benefits you can get from it are endless. AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months and should be continued even after the introduction of other food items until at least age 1 year or when mother and baby want to quit it.
WHO recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old or longer so that the benefits of mother’s milk can be supplied to your baby as long as it can. Experts recommend breastfeeding your newborn baby just after an hour of its birth to supply the essential benefits of your milk. You may have a question in your mind How often you should breastfeed your baby well it completely relies on whether your baby prefers small, frequent meals or longer feedings. This may vary as your baby grows and develops.
Newborns oftentimes want to feed every 2-3 hours. After 2 months, feeding every 3-4 hours can be common, and after six months, most babies may want to feed every 4-5 hours. While your baby can also show some signs of feeling hungry including licking their lips, putting their hand in their mouth, opening their mouth, sucking on things, and fussiness. Breastfeeding is a blessing for both mother and baby that provides numerous health benefits.
Benefits of breastfeeding for babies
- Breastfeeding provides ideal nutrition to your baby as it contains yellowish called colostrum that has plenty of protein, low sugar, and other beneficial compounds. The colostrum is the ideal primary milk that helps newborns to develop a digestive tract. It can’t be replaced by a formula and is considered a wonder food.
- Breast milk supplies antibodies to your newborn that can help it to fight against viruses and bacterias as the early months of the newborn are tender. Colostrum contains plenty of immunoglobulin and other antibodies that protect the baby by forming a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat, and digestive system.
- Breastfeeding may also reduce the risk in your newborn baby of various other ailments including:
- Middle ear infections
- Respiratory tract infections
- Colds and infections
- Intestinal tissue damage
- Sudden infant death syndrome
- Allergic diseases
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bowel diseases
- Type 1 and 2 diabetes
- Childhood leukemia
- Breastfeeding helps in maintaining a healthy weight and prevent childhood obesity
- Breastfeeding may have a significant effect on your newborn brain development and can make it smarter.
Benefits of breastfeeding for mothers
- Breastfeeding helps in the reduction of body weight after childbirth and can burn 500 extra calories per day.
- After childbirth, your uterus goes through a process called involution, which Helps the uterus contract and return to its normal size. Oxytocin (a hormone that supports the uterus to complete the involution process, helps you to deliver the baby, reduces bleeding, and can enhance the bond between you and your newborn baby), can be increased through breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding can lower the risk of various ailments including:
Breastfeeding can develop hormones called oxytocin and prolactin that support stress reduction and promote positive feelings in the mother after childbirth. Breastfeeding promotes confidence, self-esteem, and calmness in women after delivery. Breastfeeding can make your travel easier as it is always pure and carries the right temperature for your newborn baby. Breastfeeding can also enhance the physical and emotional bond between mother and baby.
The bottom line
The newborn baby needs pure nutrition and energy to grow in its early months. Breastfeeding is a blessing that can fulfill all the requirements of a newborn baby and also provides endless benefits to its mother. We hope you find this article useful for yourself.
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