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The feelings of a new mom can be understood and explained only by her. It’s difficult to put it in words by another. Amid all the childbirth pain, she experiences a wave of joy inside her.
Breastfeeding her newborn is her first ‘real hands-on’ mom experience. In those few moments, she gives all her love, care and nourishment to her baby.
Doctors highly recommend exclusively breastfeeding a newborn for at least 6 months after birth, and continuing it thereafter clubbed with other nutritious diet for the baby. It’s only obvious then that this golden ageless practice is known to have numerous far-reaching effects for your baby not just now but for years to come.
And, these benefits are constantly studied and researched upon to find out newer benefits for not just the baby but even the mom (read my next post on Surprising Benefits of Breastfeeding For Moms).
In this post, I’ve tried to cover some interesting and lesser-known facts about breastfeeding which perhaps you didn’t know earlier (well, I didn’t). So let’s begin.
10 Lesser-Known Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby
1. Strengthens immunity
Your newborn is undoubtedly vulnerable to a wide array of infections in the outside world. Now, an adult body, when exposed to germs, can auto-develop antibodies to fight them off.
Research proves that these antibodies get passed on from the mother to her baby during breastfeeding. A natural way to boost the baby’s immunity without putting it at the risk of direct exposure to germs. Cool, right?
That’s not all. Did you know that Colostrum or the first milk expressed soon after the baby’s birth is known to contain large amounts of antibodies? This highly concentrated milk is a must for every newborn, providing them immunity at the very start of their new life.
Besides this, continuing to exclusively breastfeed your baby for 6 months is known to help reduce chances of them catching common colds, throat infections and other respiratory problems.
2. Lowers likelihood of ear infection
Another common problem in newborns but with a simple solution. According to the results of a study, babies who were breastfed for just a month were found to be at lower risk of developing ear infections when compared with babies on formula milk for the same duration.
In the words of Sarah Keim, PhD, author of the study, “While it is not completely clear why ear infections may be related to bottle feeding, it could be because bottles can create a negative pressure during feeding. This negative pressure is then transferred from the bottle to the middle ear of the infant during feedings, which may precipitate ear infections.”
3. Helps lower risk of SIDS in infants
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is a common but terrifying reality, particularly in the US. The country is known to report at least 3,500 (and more) cases of infant death owing to SIDS. The cases are generally reported in infants below 1 year who seem to have died due to accidental suffocation in bed.
Studies suggest that breastfeeding your baby for just the first two months after birth can help reduce the chances of SIDS death in them by nearly 50%!
While researchers on these studies haven’t been able to determine 100% as to how this could be related, they do assert that breastfed babies are less likely to sleep as deeply as formula-fed infants.
Yes, babies on exclusive breastfeed don’t tend to fill up as much as those on formula and are more likely to wake up every few hours. This helps reduce the chances of accidental suffocation in sleep in these babies.
Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth. [Pamela K. Wiggins - International Board Certified Lactation Consultant]
4. Reduces risk of asthma
This is another of the great benefits of exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first six months. Research has it that the baby is at lesser risk of asthma or related symptoms, such as wheezing, persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, or consistent phlegm formation during the early childhood years.
5. Offers best source of complete nutrition
With breastfeeding, you can be rest assured of having a hale and hearty baby who has healthy weight and has better immunity. This is because the mother’s milk is rich in all that your growing baby needs for healthy growth.
It is complete with all the essential nutrients derived from the varied and balanced diet that the mom has been taking all through the 9 months and beyond. All the carbs, vitamins, fats, antibodies and hormones - your baby is sure to get all of this only from the breastfeed. All the more reason to continue it beyond 6 months!
6. Develops stronger bond with the mother
Doctors say that the baby’s skin-to-skin contact with the mother works best at building a bond for a lifetime. In fact, research has shown that babies who were breastfed were less likely to ‘internalize’ problems as they grew older, primarily because they tended to share more with their moms. Moreover, these kids were also at a lower risk of developing depression-related disorders later on in life.
7. Reduces chances of childhood obesity
Researchers believe that babies who’re breastfed learn to identify early in life when they’re full when compared with formula-fed kids. This helps breastfed children better control their calorie intake from the very start.
Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels
8. Improves eyesight
Wanna hear something interesting? The moments when your baby is breastfeeding and looking up at your face are actually known to help improve and strengthen the baby’s eyesight!
While a baby’s eye vision is known to slowly develop over a period of time, studies now show that the baby looking up to the mother’s face during breastfeeding helps develop their eyesight better, besides bonding the two, of course.
9. Boosts IQ
This one’s my favorite. There are several studies with the same result - all proving that a child who’s been breastfed in early childhood is more likely to score higher in IQ tests when compared with their peers who weren’t breastfed.
What’s more fascinating? According to a research conducted on adults, those who were breastfed in their childhood ended up scoring higher in IQ tests evaluating verbal, comprehension and performance skills.
Not just that, according to the authors of this research, these breastfed adults were more likely to earn at least 20% higher than the average income bar in the respective field. So much for breastfeeding your newborn!
10. Reduces chances of leukemia in children
Yes, breastfeeding is also known to lower the possibility of children developing certain specific types of cancers, more particularly leukemia - a type of blood cancer.
One study showed that kids who had been breastfed for 10 months demonstrated lower risk tendencies of being afflicted by cancer, as compared to the babies who were breastfed for only 4-6 months.
Final Words From Stay At Home Mummy
Breastfeeding should not be a choice or an option you may select only if you deem convenient or comfortable to match your liking or schedule.
It’s the most precious gift you can ever give to your newborn, more than any number of clothes and toys which you may have planned for after their arrival.
Instead, give them this gift of a lifetime which would have such far-reaching immense benefits even when they turn adults. Not to forget, it’s the most beautiful experience you can ever have with your li’l one - your one-on-one “us time” with your tiny bundle of joy. Enjoy it while it lasts.
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