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Benefits of breastfeeding (Article for mothers)

10th March 2009
Breast milk

From the moment your baby is born, your body starts producing the perfect mix of nutrients in your breast milk for him. While formula milk contains essential vitamins and proteins that a baby needs, it doesn't have all the benefits of breast milk, such as antibodies that strengthen your baby's immune system.

Good for the baby

Research shows that breastfed babies are significantly less likely to suffer from ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, asthma, diabetes, and urinary-tract infections, as well as from food allergies and eczema if your family has a history of either. Nursing may also boost babies' brainpower. Mother's milk also helps protect babies from becoming obese later in life, and girls who are breastfed are also less likely to develop breast cancer as adults.

Good for the mother

Oxytocin, a hormone released during nursing, helps to return your uterus to its regular size more quickly and reduces postpartum bleeding. Breastfeeding also burns about 500 calories a day, which can help you lose your baby weight faster. Women who nurse are at lower risk of developing breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and possibly osteoporosis. Not to mention that breastfeeding is convenient (no bottles to wash or formula to mix) and cheaper than formula milk.

How milk adjusts for your baby's needs

At birth: Your first milk is colostrum, a thick, yellowish pre-milk that's high in the fats and proteins your newborn needs and easy for her to digest. It's also extremely rich in the substances that protect her against infections.

Two to five days after birth: Your milk will begin to "come in" now. This transitional milk is thinner than colostrum but far more plentiful, and higher in lactose and fat, which help your baby's brain develop.

Two weeks after birth: Your milk will become even thinner and more watery, but it's still rich in nutrients.

When and how often should you feed

Day 1: Your first breastfeeding session should take place within an hour of your baby's birth, if possible. This timing takes best advantage of his instinct to suckle, kick-starts your milk, and is a great way to bond. It also helps your uterus contract, which reduces bleeding.

After that, make sure he's latching on correctly as early as possible. If he's not, he'll be hungry, you will be in pain, and both of you will get frustrated.

The first few weeks: Your baby may eat as often as once an hour.

From around 1 month: Once a routine is established, most newborns feed every two to three hours during the day, and around every four hours at night. Your baby should have between 8 and 12 feedings a day - even if you have to wake him up.

Almost all new mothers worry that their babies aren't eating enough. But your baby's appetite will ebb and flow depending on his needs; the quantity of your milk will adjust in kind. He'll be hungrier during growth spurts, which often occur at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.

From 6 months on: Once he starts solids at around this age, he'll need less breast milk. But as long as you choose to breastfeed -even if it's in combination with food and/or formula - your milk will provide your baby with important nutrients and protection against illness.

How to increase your milk supply

The key to stimulating production is to empty the breasts. So if your newborn doesn't nurse vigorously, expressing with a breast pump for about ten minutes immediately after each feeding can drain most of the remaining milk.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to start your lifelong bond with your child, and it has benefits for both of you and alot of reward Insha Allah.
posted by ubuntu on 10th March 2009 - 0 comments


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