You have probably read a lot about breastfeeding and know that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your new baby, but did you know that the advantages extend beyond nutrition? Your breast milk provides a combination of vitamins & minerals but it is also loaded with disease fighting substances that help protect your baby from illness.
The first milk your body produces is called colostrum. Research has shown that colostrum contains immune factors that protect your baby against invading germs by building a protective layer on your child’s mucous membranes in their throat, intestines and nose. The immune factor found in colostum is immunoglobulin A. It is important to start feeding your baby right after birth as the immune factor is found at to be more concentrated in colostrum than in mature milk.
Researchers have been fascinated by the link between breast feeding and your babies IQ. Several studies have found a possible link that proves breast feeding may help your child become more intelligent in later life. Results indicated that babies that were breastfed for six months or more had more of an advantage when it came to learning. The exact reasons why is unknown, but experts suggest it relates to the emotional bonding coupled with the fatty acids in breast milk that help a baby’s brain develop.
The antibodies in breast milk can lower the risk of your child developing both acute lymphoblastic and acute myeloid leukemia. Research is ongoing in this area but leans towards the immune system receiving a boost.
The composition of breast milk is constantly changing to match your babies needs. It contains the exact composition of fat, protein, enzymes, minerals & sugar required at each stage of your baby’s development.
Due to the digestibility of breast milk, breast fed babies rarely suffer from constipation. As a side note it also produces a milder smelling dirty diaper.
Breast feeding requires a unique sucking action that can not be replicated by using a bottle. This oral workout may be the reason that breast fed babies require less orthodontic work and have better overall dental health than children fed on formula.
When your body is producing breast milk it is burning calories. Breast feeding your baby for the first year can actually help you loose weight.
Breast feeding can lower your stress levels as nursing triggers the release of a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone has been found to increase feelings of relaxation and promote nurturing. It was also discovered that oxytocin helps the uterus return to normal size after child birth. This helps reduce the likelihood of postpartum bleeding.