Exclusive Breastfeeding: 30 Irresistible Benefits! No. 16 will shock you!
Exclusive breastfeeding means giving your baby only breast milk, and nothing more but breast milk – not even water, except maybe drugs or Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that every baby be exclusively be breastfed for the first 6months of life. #exclusivebreastfeeding
Despite this advice, the WHO has reported that 3 out of every 5 babies are not breastfed. The reasons are what we shall talk about later as it relates to Nigeria. For now, let us talk about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.
30 Benefits of Exclusive breastfeeding
1. Protection from Upper Respiratory Tract Inspection: exclusive breastfeeding protects against upper respiratory infections like pneumonia, and common cold.
2. Protection from Diarrhoea: Babies exclusively breast fed tend to suffer less of diarrhoea than non exclusive breastfed babies. Diarrhoea is one of the commonest killer diseases in Nigeria. Exclusive breastfeeding protects against diarrhoea. This is made possible by immunoglobulin A, oligosaccharides, lactoferrin present in Breast milk.
3. Reduced Risk of Asthma: Asthma has been found to occur less in children of mothers that practised exclusive breastfeeding. Asthma is a chronic disease of the airway that is usually due to allergic response to normal environmental antigens like dust, smoke, steam etc. Exclusive breastfeeding keeps your baby away from Asthma.
4. Food Allergies: Some allergic responses (like asthma) to food substances have been linked to lack of exclusive breastfeeding. Examples cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, finned fish, shellfish and wheat (gluten). These foods consist of more than 80% of the food allergies found in children. Exclusive breastfeeding protects your baby from these food allergies.
5. Protection from Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: An online analysis, has suggested that exclusive breastfeeding has the tremendous capacity to reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus by 15%. Note that, type 1 diabetes mellitus is an auto immune disease, whereby the immune system attacks itself (the pancreatic cells).
6. Increases the Intelligence (IQ) of the baby – Studies have revealed that babies that had exclusive breastfeeding tend to be more intelligent than their non exclusively breastfed counterparts. Their IQs rated very high. This is because breast milk promotes brain development, particularly white matter growth.
7. Decreases Adulthood Obesity: Exclusive breastfeeding reduces the inordinate gain of weight that can lead to adulthood obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, Dyslipidaemia. Children that were breastfed have more control over their feeding pattern than their formula-fed counterparts. It has also been shown that that the kinetics of breastfed infants differ from that of formula-fed infants as it is now evident that formula-fed infants have a higher weight gain.
8. Decreases in incidence of Type 2 Diabetes: A meta analysis has shown that exclusive breastfeeding has s protective effect on developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes results when the body becomes resistant to insulin. The study revealed that babies that were breastfed have reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
9. Reduction in Infant Mortality: According to a report from Mauritius, infant mortality was reduced by 8.8% in 2010. It was deduced that exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality rate by reducing the rate of diarrhoea and respiratory infections which are the top killers of children.
10. Skin Infections: There are conflicting reports on this. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces the chances of having atopic eczema, but this depends on the immunological state of the mother. Mothers are therefore advised to reduce the rate of intake of dietary allergens that can cross the gut mucosa a cause atopic dermatitis.
11. Antibodies: Breast milk contains a high amount of antibodies. Antibodies are protein molecules that fight against disease- causing antigens. Babies have a poorly developed immune system to produce enough antibodies. There is passive passage of antibodies from the mother to the baby through breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding is very important here.
12. Prevention of Acute Otitis Media: The common bacteria that cause acute otitis media are streptococcus and haemophilus influenza. The breast milk has a good antibody activity against these bacteria. Acute otitis is an infection of the middle part of the ear. It is very common among children. Exclusive breastfeeding is protective.
13. Reduces Risk of Heart disease: There are little studies to prove this. But it has been shown that exclusive breastfeeding reduces Low density Lipoprotein(LDL) – the bad cholesterol. LDL is detrimental to the heart. It causes atherosclerosis which is a precursor for heart diseases like angina pectoris, and myocardial infarction. Other risk factors for heart diseases like obesity, type 1&2 diabetes are also reduced by exclusive breastfeeding.
14. Childhood Leukaemia: Exclusive breastfeeding could protect your baby from leukamia. Leukemia is one of the topmost cancer in children. Leukaemia has no specific cause. But some viruses have been implicated. Breast milk could protect against these viruses through passive immunity.
15. Adequate Nutrion : The human breast milk is very rich. Human milk is species-specific and is superior to any other breast milk substitute and it is also assumed to the ideal food for infant during the first 4-6 months, ensuring proper growth and development. It is the most natural food available for infant is unique whereby its nutritional composition varies from mother to mother, from day to day, during the day and during a feed. Human milk contains several factors such as immunoglobulin, T lymphocytes, enzymes such as lysozymes, phagocytes among others which are not present in breast milk substitute. Exclusive breastfeeding guarantees you all these.
Breast milk contains everything your baby needs for the first six months of life, with the possible exception of vitamin D. The first milk is thick, rich in protein and loaded with beneficial compounds.Healthline
16. Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SID): Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death or crib death, is the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age. Diagnosis requires that the death remains unexplained even after a thorough autopsy and detailed death scene investigation. SIDS usually occurs during sleep. Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding could prevent this enigma.
17. Protection Against Celiac Disease: Celiac disease , also called, gluten sensitive enteropathy. It is a disease of the intestine caused by reaction to a substance called gluten – a protein usually found in wheat, barley or rye. Studies have revealed Exclusive Breastfeeding may offer protection against the development of celiac disease. Breast feeding during the introduction of dietary gluten, and increasing duration of breast feeding were associated with reduced risk of developing Celiac disease. It is, however, not clear from the primary studies whether breast feeding delays the onset of symptoms or provides a permanent protection against the disease.
18. Creation of Bonding between Mother and baby: During suckling, the baby stimulates the nipple which causes the release of oxytocin that causes the milk flow. The oxytocin has been found to increase bonding between the mother and her baby. Exclusive breastfeeding gives enough time for this veritable tool of child growth and formation.
19. Reduction in risk of breast cancer: Studies say there is little evidence in this. And if at all, exclusive breastfeeding reduces the incidence of Breast cancer, it is a very small risk compared to non exclusively breastfed infant.
20. Breastfeeding helps in Child Spacing: A mother that constantly breastfeeds her baby will hardly ovulate during that 6months. This prevents her from pregnancy, and thus child spacing. The hormone that produces milk – prolactin inhibits oestrogens which causes ovulation. At least you rest from menstrual pain for the months
21. Breastfeeding prevents Endometrial cancer: Endometrial cancer is caused in majority of the cases by unopposed oestrogen stimulation of the uterus. Exclusive breastfeeding grants enough time for the uterus to rest because the hormones involved in breastfeeding (oxytocin and prolactin ) inhibit oestrogens.
22. Breastfeeding Reduces incidence of Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer has been linked to incessant stimulation of the ovary by hormones. These hormones (follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone) are reduced during pregnancy due to inhibition from oxytocin and prolactin, thus granting the ovary some rest and thus prevent Ovarian Cancer..
23. Prevention of Osteoporosis: Exclusive breastfeeding prevents against osteoporosis and hip fracture according to LA leche league international. Menopause causes osteoporosis. Read about menopause
24. Protection for Diabetic mothers: Studies have shown that mothers with type 1 diabetes have reduced insulin dose when breastfeeding.
25. Prevention of Postpartum Hemorrhage. This is bleeding that occurs after giving birth. Exclusive breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract faster and prevent bleeding. Oxytocin makes this possible.
26. Cheap: It is a God-given food. It does not cost you your hard earned money. Unlike Infant formulas that will rip you off. Exclusive breastfeeding saves you money a lot of money. It is not cheap to buy infant formula for 6 months.
27. Rich and Nutritious: Apart from being cheap, it is rich. So you are paying less for the best. That’s a profitable business if you ask me.
28. Convenience: Breastmilk is available anytime, anywhere. It is always prepared at the right temperature. You do not need to defreeze or warm. It is always available for the baby. Compare it with the stress of Infant formula?
29. Reduction in Postpartum Depression: Exclusive breastfeeding helps you to relax, the increased oxytocin helps you get relaxed, encourages bonding between mother and her baby, thus prevent depression.
30. Helps You loose weight: During pregnancy, you gather a lot of fat. Exclusive breastfeeding helps you to shed off some fats during the post partum period. Whereas some studies have given credence to this, others say some women rather gain weight during breastfeeding.
So these are the 30 benefits you should not trade for anything. I hope I got all, if you have any benefit not reflected here kindly let me know. Use the comment box below. Note: The first 17 are benefits for the baby, the last 13 are benefits for the mother.