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Benefits of Breastfeeding and Breastmilk

Updated on January 22, 2014

Breastfeeding is beneficial in all sorts of ways for both the mother and the baby. It is useful to look at the benefits of breastfeeding and breast-milk in two separate ways.

Breastfeeding benefits both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding benefits both mother and baby.

The benefits of breastfeeding for baby.

The action of breastfeeding for the baby helps to develop the jaw muscles which in turn keeps the tubes that lead to the ear open. It may not become immediately apparent until your child is 5-7 years of age but breastfeeding can then lead to:

  • Reduced incidences of Ear infection
  • Better speech
  • protection against problems with teeth such as teeth misaligned or tooth decay.

Benefits of Breastmilk for baby

Breast-milk has nutrients in it specifically for baby's needs and it is easily digested and used by baby's body. It is made up of constituents that are specifically there to prevent infection and aid growth in babies, and it also helps to protect the gut lining.

  • Research has shown there are positive health outcomes for Breastfed babies:
  • Reduced incidences of bowel and lung infections after baby is born and later on in life
  • protects against ear infections
  • reduces the onset of childhood diabetes
  • Good development of the brain, central nervous system and sight, especially in preterm babies.
  • Lower blood pressure in later childhood
  • Reduce the incidence of Obesity in both childhood and adulthood.
  • some allergic conditions can be less severe
  • some research show lower risk of sudden infant death
  • reduced incidence of multiple sclerosis.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the mother

There are various health benefits for the mother in the postnatal period and also long term these are:

  • reduced risk of developing breast cancer and some forms of ovarian cancer after the menopause later in life
  • At lower risk of hip fractures in women over 65
  • A delay in the return of fertility
  • Helps to lose extra weight gained in pregnancy
  • Helps mother to bond with baby.

Mothers Milk - What is Colostrum?

Mothers milk is made specifically for her baby. The composition of breast-milk varies from feed to feed and throughout the day and different between woman to woman.

After the delivery of your baby you produce colostrum, this is a thick, sticky substance which can be yellow or clear in colour. The amount you produce will increase with the amount of sucking that baby will do. Producing small amounts of colostrum initially is normal as it is designed not to put stress on baby's kidneys.

Colostrum also acts as a laxative and helps baby to have his first poo or meconium. The effects of the laxative also helps prevent baby from getting Jaundiced and eliminating the yellow substance that causes it from the body.

It also contains immunoglobulins and antibodies which line the gut and are there to prevent infections and other pathogens from entering the baby's system. Colostrum can sometimes have an orange appearance which is beta-carotene, this is an antioxidant that is known to protect against cancers.

Colostrum also protects your baby from the risks of asthma, eczema, and diabetes, as it block the allergens that cause these. It is also richer than mature milk in some vitamins especially vitamin A, which also helps to prevent and reduce the severity of infections.

In order for baby to gain the maximum amount of colostrum that he needs then it is important to avoid giving any other foods or drinks before they start breastfeeding.

After 2-3 days then the breasts start to produce breast-milk which dilutes the colostrum so the constituents are the same but in higher volumes.

Mature Breastmilk

Breast Milk is a living substance and tailored for your baby, it changes in composition from feed to feed in order to meet the needs of your baby. It contains living cells that protect your baby from infection.

A baby who is allowed to feed as long as he wants and as ofter as he wants will not require additional fluids or substances for the first six months of life. Breast-milk contains proteins which are used for growth and development and are easily digested and absorbed by the baby.

As a mother responds to bacteria and viruses in her own environment then she will produce antibodies. This passes through the breast milk to her baby and therefore baby starts to build up immunity to the same viruses and bacteria.


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