Nature has designed human milk for human babies. It has several advantages over any substitute available in the market. Breastfeeding provides the perfect nutrition for babies and provides many health benefits to both, the mother and baby. Initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of the birth and exclusive breastfeeding can prevent morbidity and mortality. The primary causes of infant mortality are newborn sepsis, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Breastfeeding is the single most important intervention which can prevent death due to these diseases. The details listed below enumerate the benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk.
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF BREAST MILK:
- Human survival depends more on brain power than strong muscles and rapid growth. Breast milk has fatty acids, like DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) that may help in the baby’s brain and eyes development.
- It may lower the chances of sudden infant death (SIDS). SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1-year-old. The researchers concluded that exclusive breastfeeding at 1 month of age cut the risk of SIDS in half.
- The sugar (carbohydrate) and protein in breast milk are also designed to be used easily and more completely by the human baby.
- Human milk is the perfect first food to help baby achieve every aspect of ideal growth and development.
- The high bio-availability of nutrient in human milk ensures more utilization of nutrients even if present in smaller quantity.
- Human milk contains adequate water (88%) so that infant does not need extra water in 1st six months of life.
ANTI-INFECTIVE IMMUNE FACTOR:
Colostrum the 1st milk that comes from the mother post birth is a very rich source of immunoglobulins that immunizes the child against most of bacteria and viruses. The main immune factor at work here is a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), that’s present in large amounts in colostrum (Secretory IgA is present in lower concentrations in mature breast milk.).
- The substance guards against invading germs by forming a protective layer on the mucous membranes in baby’s intestines, nose, and throat.
- Growth factors in colostrum stimulate the baby’s intestine for better digestion and absorption of the milk.
- It also prevents absorption of undigested proteins that can cause allergy.
- The laxative property of the colostrum helps the baby to pass meconium and thereby helps in reduction of incidence of neonatal jaundice.
- Exclusive breastfeeding saves the baby from long term complications like obesity, coronary artery disease, asthma, and hypertension.