In recent decades, the medical faculty has been promoting breastfeeding to moms, as opposed to feeding them infant formula. We’ve heard a lot of about how breast milk is good for infants, especially for newborns. Compared to infant formulas, breast milk is richer in a range of vitamins and proteins that are essential for babies to grow and develop well.
Additionally, breast milk contains antibodies that infant formulas can never provide. Antibodies are produced only in the human body and cannot be replicated artificially as supplements. Babies who consume the colostrum or antibody-rich part of their mother’s milk will benefit from a wide range of antibodies that protect them from asthma, allergies, inflammations, and more importantly, infections. This means that babies will have fewer instances of respiratory infections, ear infections, diarrhea, and other illnesses that may send them and their parents running to the hospital every now and then.
On the other hand, we hear a little less about the benefits of breastfeeding for moms. Many previous studies have found that breastfeeding is as good for moms as it is for their babies, and here are some of those benefits:
A team from China working at the University of Oxford analyzed almost 300,000 mothers in China and found that mothers who breastfed their babies for two years or longer had significantly fewer cases of heart diseases and strokes later in life. They also found that the longer a mother breastfeeds her child, the lower her risks of developing heart disease.
Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps the womb contract and heal faster. Oxytocin also decreases the chances of postnatal bleeding, which helps eliminate the chances of a womb infection too. Women who breastfeed are able to return to their original waistline about 6 weeks after giving birth, as opposed to an average of ten weeks if you don’t breastfeed.
Studies have shown that mothers who breastfed their babies have a 25% lower chance of developing breast cancer. Additionally, the risks of uterine and ovarian cancers are also brought down, due to the low levels of estrogen that usually stimulate the uterus lining and breast cells. Without this stimulation, cells are less likely to overgrow and become cancerous.
Data has shown that breastfeeding moms have four times fewer chances of developing osteoporosis later in life compared to moms that depended solely on infant formula to feed their babies.
Breastfeeding is a natural way to prevent ovulation, and moms won’t have to depend on other forms of birth control like the pill or IUDs. The prolonged release of prolactin and oxytocin prevents ovulation and works as a natural birth control.
Postnatal depression is one of those things rarely discussed about postpartum women, but it’s also one of the leading causes of maternal fatalities. Postpartum depression happens because the body’s hormones are re-adjusting themselves to achieve pre-pregnancy levels and a side effect of this is emotional instability. Women who breastfeed apparently have better emotional health than women who depended solely on milk powders, leading to more stable moods and less anxiety.
Breastfeeding has been strongly encouraged by many parties for its host of benefits for both the mom and child. However, there are still individuals who make it difficult for women to breastfeed in public. All over the world, the stigma of public breastfeeding remains a core stumbling block in making breastfeeding a natural and acceptable part of our lives. In essence, public attitudes have to undergo a paradigm shift so that moms everywhere feel comfortable and safe feeding their babies, no matter where they may be.
Gentle reminder: The information on this article is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare professional and should not be considered as professional advice. Please seek appropriate medical help when necessary.