The first 1000 days of baby’s life (i.e. from the first day of your pregnancy up to 2 years of life) represent a critical period of growth and development. The most natural and complete form of nutrition for infants, breast milk (with its easy to digest balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and nutrients) offers a huge range of benefits for baby’s growth, immunity, and development. This is why the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months, and longer if possible. Just as a quick reminder, here are 8 top benefits of breastfeeding that apply to both you and your baby - in the hope that these will inspire you to start on this wonderful and rewarding journey!
1. The Ideal Nutrition Breast milk is the ultimate natural, complete form of nutrition: it contains everything the baby needs for the first six months of life, in all the right proportions. Colostrum is the first milk that will help your newborn’s immature digestive tract develop. After the first few days, the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby's stomach grows
2. It Contains Antibodies Breast milk is packed with disease-fighting antibodies that will help your baby fend off viruses and bacteria. This particularly applies to colostrum, the first milk, with its high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps by forming a protective layer in the baby's nose, throat and digestive system.
3. Reduced Risk of Disease Exclusive breastfeeding may reduce your baby's risk of many illnesses and diseases including colds, ear infections, respiratory tract infections, allergies, asthma, eczema, diabetes and SIDS. The protective effects of breastfeeding are thought to last throughout childhood and even adulthood
4. Promotes a Healthy Weight Studies show that obesity rates are 15–30% lower in breastfed babies. Duration also appears important, as each month of breastfeeding reduces your child's risk of future obesity by 4%. Breastfed babies self-regulate when eating, stopping when they’ve satisfied their hunger, and this helps them develop healthy eating habits. Babies fed on breast milk also have more leptin in their systems, a key hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage.
5. It Can Help You Lose Weight Beginning around 3–6 months after delivery, mothers who breastfeed have been shown to lose more weight than mothers who don't breastfeed- burning between 500 and 600 calories per day
6. Breastfeeding Helps the Uterus Contract During pregnancy your uterus expands from the size of a pear to filling almost your entire abdomen. After delivery, it goes through a process called involution, where it slowly returns to its original size. Oxytocin, a hormone that increases throughout pregnancy, helps drive this process. Oxytocin also increases during breastfeeding, encouraging uterine contractions and reducing bleeding, helping the uterus effortlessly return to its previous size
7. Reduces Your Disease Risk Women who breastfeed for more than 12 months during their lifetime have a 28% lower risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. Recent studies also indicate that breastfeeding may protect against metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Women who breastfeed for 1–2 years over their lifetime have a 10–50% lower risk of high blood pressure, arthritis, high blood fats, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
8. It Will Save You Time and Money! The practical aspect of breastfeeding is not to be sneered at: it will save you a huge amount of money and time! You won’t have to spend on formula, you won’t need to calculate and keep track of how much baby needs to drink daily, you won’t have to clean and sterilize bottles, or mix and warm bottles at all hours (not to mention on the go…) Breast milk is free, it’s always at the right temperature and is always ready to drink!
With breast milk being the most natural nutrition for your baby, it stands to reason you should aim to use toxic-free products when expressing and feeding. Here is where Haakaa comes in, with its fabulous range of Generation 3 Breast Pumps, Eco-Friendly Breastfeeding Accessories and more! Browse the full range and order online today!