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The advantages of breastfeeding
Advantages of breastfeeding for the baby
Breastfeeding has many advantages that makes it the ideal option for infant feeding. The mother's breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition
for babies in the first months of life. All nutrients that the baby needs are
available in breast milk in both adequate amounts and optimum concetrations for
absorbtion and metabolism.
Breast milk contains all the nutrients the baby needs and is adequate to supply all the baby needs during the first 6 months, that's why exclusive breastfeeding is recommeded during this time. It also contains growth factors that the baby needs as well as substances and nutrients that promote the development of the baby's retina and nervous system.
Human breast milk is the best for nutrition and contains all the minerals,
immunoglobulins (antibodies), cells and enzymes needed by the infant. Even with the low amounts of iron in breast milk, it's very easy to be digested and thus more suitable for the baby "in medical terms: more bioavailable"
So, let's the summarize the advantages of breastfeeding and breast milk:
- It's natural and of suitable temprature. Containing all the nutrients needed by the baby in the ideal concentrations for digestion and absorbtion.
- Breast milk have antimicrobial properties as it contains antibodies, cells (as lymphocytes), lyzozymess and antiviral substances like interferone.
- It's safer than animal milk as it doesn't cause gastroenteritis and can prevent inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
- Reduced risk of respiratory diseases and diarrhea.
- It's protein is very easy to be digested.
- Doesn't cause allergy and can reduce the incidence of atopy.
- Contains long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the development of both the retina and the nervous system of the newborn.
- Low salt content (safer on the kineys).
- Reduces the risk of diabetes mellitus.
- Breastfeeding builds a strong bond between the baby and the mother.
Advantages of breastfeeding for the mother
- Breast milk is also beneficial for the mother as it helps better involution
of the uterus. Suckling stimulates the secretion of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for uterine invlution.
- It's the cheapest milk and it needs no effort in preparing.
- Cancer breast and ovarian cancers are less in breastfeeding moms.
- Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive way.
- Breastfeeding also has a great psychological effect and emotional satisfaction for both the mother and the baby, it gives the mother a sense of confidence in herself that she is capable of feeding and taking care of her beloved one.
Disadvantages of breastfeeding:
The disadvantages are minimal compared to all other types of milk and formulas. However, the amount breast milk can't be calculated, this is a problem in some situations when the doctor needs to know the volume of fluids that the baby is receiving.
Infected mothers (with HIV or hepatitis, for example) can infect their babies. Also drugs taken by the moher are excreted in breast milk (such as antithyroids, laxatives, alcohol and caffeine) thus, it can have a harmful effect on the baby.
Also, prolonged breastfeeding for more than 6 months ALONE without introducing complementary foods can cause some types of nutritional deficiencies. Breast milk is perfectly enough during the first 6 months of age, but as the child grows older, breast milk alone can't satisfy all his needs.
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