Features  |  Health  

5 ways breastfeeding benefits new mums

By Nini Iyizoba, Contributor   |   09 August 2017   |   1:21 pm  

Women with small babies wait for medical attention at a clinic on August 10, 2009 in central Douala, Cameroon. PHOTO: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and this has been observed annually since 1992. The aim is to encourage the act of breastfeeding and to educate new mothers on the health benefits their infants tend to gain when they are breastfed. Here are five advantages mums get for breastfeeding.

Extra special bonding
Breastfeeding creates a special bond like no other between the mother and child. It is such an intimate act and this skin to skin contact is very important to newborns. It allows the baby to become more familiar with the mother’s touch, the heartbeat, and helps babies feel more secure and comforted. The oxytocin released also promotes enhanced love and affection, trust and confidence between mother and baby. It elevates the mother’s mood and wards off postpartum depression. Therefore, breastfeeding is a way a mother can build a loving and nurturing relationship with their child.

Bye cancer!
There is conclusive evidence that breastfeeding an infant for more than 18 months reduces risk of a woman developing ovarian cancer by as much as 50 per cent! Breastfeeding can also decrease a woman’s breast cancer risk especially if done for more than a year. This is because prolonged periods of breastfeeding reduce a woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen, the hormone that is the main component that promotes breast and ovarian cancer cell growth.

Kick off the Kgs
Just as with the baby, breastfeeding helps women to maintain a healthy weight. Breastfeeding mums can burn an additional 1000 calories or more a day depending on how frequently you breastfeed. Naturally, women who are breastfeeding would make healthier food choices to avoid giving the baby too much junk and this would translate into a quicker weight loss for the mother because you are eating nourishing, healthy foods. Generally, women who breastfeed tend to return faster to their pre-baby weight than those who do not breastfeed.

6 versus 10
Oxytocin released during breastfeeding is also responsible for uterine contractions. This means that there is reduced blood loss post-delivery and this helps the uterus heal quicker and return to normal size more quickly – in six weeks as opposed to 10 weeks – if you don’t breastfeed.

Cheaper and convenient
Imagine it’s the middle of the night and your baby is hungry and crying. What could be easier than just whipping out one breast and satisfying your baby? You don’t have to stand up from bed to warm the baby food to the right temperature because breastmilk is always at the right temperature, you wouldn’t even have to buy, wash or sterilize any bottles. Formula and feeding supplies are expensive and breastfeeding eliminates that huge dent in your finances because breastmilk is free!

In general, breastfeeding is of optimum importance for healthy growth and development and long-term health of the child, and it is very important to encourage this all over the world. Awareness should be made very early during pregnancy or even before conception. Breastfeeding your infant is one of the highly preventive measures to protect your child’s health. If we want our future generation to become healthier, we need to promote breastfeeding from now. Just tell them ‘When it comes to baby food, breast is best!”



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