Scientists have not managed to replicate the actual milk that is produced by a mother. A mother’s milk has all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional elements that a baby’s body needs. The formulation of breast milk includes many other elements that are yet to be discovered and this is why it is highly recommended to breastfeed a baby exclusively for six months.
Breastfeeding forms a critical part of the Healthy People objectives. It is for this reason that Healthy People 2020 aims to increase the rates for breastfeeding mothers to 81.9 percent at the time of being discharged from hospital. With an increase in the number of breastfeeding mothers, there would be more than $4 billion saved in health care costs. There would be reduced medical costs that are associated with chronic illnesses in their children. Mothers would also benefit by reducing their risk of developing breast cancer.
Breastfeeding is beneficial to the mother and child.
An infants nutrition is improved since breast milk does contain all the nutrients that the infant requires. A mother’s milk does make subtle changes based on the time of day, and year, which so happens to ensure that changes in baby’s growth and requirements are properly matched.
Breast milk is easily absorbed and utilized by the baby (Binns, Lee, & Low, 2016). A complete source of nourishment is received via breast milk. This makes breast milk the one food source that does contain all the necessary nutrients for the growth and development of the baby. It is also easily digested, which ensures that it does not add stress to the baby’s digestive systems.
Breast milk does contain growth hormones that do enhance the strong development of the baby’s organs. Breast milk does contain all the nutrients that are needed for the complement development of the human brain.
Colostrum is the first milk that is produced by a mother. Colostrum is high in immunoglobulins that do compensate for the baby’s immature immune system. It is considered to be the baby’s first vaccine. When a mother does get sick, her body will produce antibodies targeted to fight the infection. The antibodies that are produced will then be transferred to the baby through breast milk, ensuring that the baby will not get sick. If the baby does get sick, the body of the mother will produce the necessary antibodies that are then transferred to the baby via breast milk in order to fight off the infection.
Research has indicated that mothers who breastfeed and are working have reported fewer days when they have missed work due to an unscheduled doctor visit with a sick baby. Babies who are breastfed rarely have diarrhea or get constipated, respiratory illnesses or ear infections. This is because breast milk contains all the right components in the right amounts for the growth and development of the infant. Currently, breastfeeding is associated with lowered risks of both type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Maternal Health and Feeding Regulation
There is a lowered risk of breast, cervical, and uterine cancers amongst mothers who breastfeed. There is evidence that mothers who breastfeed and they have diabetes have required less insulin as compared to when they are not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding does have an effect on the mother’s body. Mothers who breastfeed will get back to their prenatal body shape and they will also lose weight naturally. Fertility can be delayed when mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months. This is beneficial as it gives the mothers body time to heal before they can conceive another child.
When a baby is breastfeeding, he or she is able to control the amount of milk they consume during feeding. This ensures that satiety is developed and learned and it is vital for the future gain of weight (Bar, Milanaik, & Adesman, 2016). Leptin the hormone that regulated appetite is found in higher concentrations in breastfed babies. Breastfed children have been shown to have a lower risk of developing obesity or excess weight.
When babies are bottle fed, the amount of milk consumed is determined by the caregiver. In essence, it is assumed that the baby must finish the milk that is in the bottle for the caregiver to be satisfied that the baby is full. This force-feeding does interfere with the baby’s natural development of satiety.
The research that has been carried out in support for breast milk could be biased. This is because the research is not a randomized control trial, which is not possible with breastfeeding mothers. The women who opt to breastfeed their children exclusively will also go the extra mile to ensure that they do take good care of their baby’s health. It is for this reason that some scientists have argued that there are environmental factors that come into play. The benefits presented that supports breastfeeding could be due to other factors. For instance, it has been found that the mothers who breastfeed exclusively do ensure that their houses are clean, vegetables are properly washed, and they are careful about what they eat.
There is evidence that does go against the claim laid for breastfeeding. Adults who were not breastfed have been shown to live healthy lives. This does raise questions as to the benefits of breastfeeding. There are children who have been breastfed exclusively who have developed chronic illnesses. These illnesses are shown to be due to genetics and are not caused by the individual’s nutrition or lack of. Therefore, the idea that breast milk does prevent chronic illnesses might be flawed.
There are benefits that both mother and child will reap from exclusive breastfeeding especially in the first six months. The infant will gain considerable nutrients that will be vital for their growth and development.
Bar, S., Milanaik, R., & Adesman, A. (2016). Long-term neurodevelopmental benefits of breastfeeding. Current opinion in pediatrics, 28(4), 559-566.
Binns, C., Lee, M., & Low, W. Y. (2016). The long-term public health benefits of breastfeeding. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 28(1), 7-14.
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