So as you probably know I will never know of this firsthand as a man, however study shows that this is not only a great bonding experience between the mother and her newborn but it comes with many added benefits to the baby.
- Breastmilk provides perfectly for the baby in its long-term exposure to disease. A nursing mother with a generally unhealthy diet will have bad “quantity” of milk rather than bad “quality” of milk.
- Breastmilk does wonders for the baby’s immune system by exposing it to the mothers own immune system. Lost you there? Let me explain, once the mother is exposed to bacteria, viruses, etc, her cells produce an antibody (IgA;Immunoglobulin A) and this is given to the baby through her milk. This boosts the baby to fight off infections as it is fights off bugs similar to what the mother has faced. Babies younger than 6 months fed exclusively on breastmilk were at lower risk of ear infections, and less incidences of diarrhea thanks to the IgA given by the mother. LA Hanson (1981) Van de Perre (2003)
- Breastmilk also provides for the baby by preparing its tiny gut to take in food when they are ready. Once the baby reaches around 6 months soft, mushy foods should little by little be introduced to the baby. Rodriguez et al (2015) say that this “biota” or BENEFICIAL BACTERIA is in charge of making sure the food is digested in the small intestine of the infant. This is given to the baby by its mothers milk.
- Breastmilk QUALITY is not a worry for ANY MOTHER. In a study done by the World Health Organization (WHO) there is an insignificant difference in child growth from breastmilk-only diets between developed and underdeveloped countries in their first 3-5 months. However, as the child grows and calls for more calories there is a big difference in growth between these groups. This suggest that breastmilk from ALL women, even those lacking adequate nutrition will be enough for the first 6 months of life of their newborn WHO (1985).
If I haven’t convinced you yet, I’m sure you can find many more scholarly articles on this. Sure formula can provide for the baby as well, but with breastmilk you do not need to worry about how much formula/water to add, or the temperature of the milk. It is NATURES PERFECT FOOD for your child.
Heres an interesting fact I found while writing this: Contrary to what I had thought, children younger than 6 months SHOULD NOT be given water. This will cause them to feel full so when given milk they will drink less, causing a lack of nutrients and calories from breastmilk or formula leading to malnutrition. WHO (2014) This can also lead to dilutional hyponatremia (yikes) meaning low sodium levels in the child due to too much water in their body. Giving as little as 8 oz (or about 236 ml) A DAY in addition to breastmilk or formula in the long-term can be terrible for the health of an infant and even fatal. In fact, in developing countries it is asked of mother by WHO to breastfeed their infants instead of giving them water-mixed formula. The water used could be laced with bacteria or diseases causing severe diarrhea on the infant. As a child grows older they can be given water little by little, along with slowly introducing soft, mushy foods. Breastmilk or formula will provide the exact amount of water needed for a baby up until about 6 months of age.
Anyways, hope you can share this article with any future mothers that are wondering if they should start nursing!