It is widely known that breastfeeding is the most nutritious way to feed an infant, but it is less known that the benefits that a child and mother receive from breastfeeding continue throughout life even after breastfeeding has stopped.
It is often said that breastfed children are healthier than formula fed children, and there are many facts that support this statement. Breastmilk aids in the proper development and maturation of an infant’s immune system. Breastfeeding decreases a child’s risk of developing several chronic diseases such as allergies, asthma, diabetes as well as many others.
Allergies – Studies show that colostrum and breastmilk can help to prevent a child from developing inherited allergies. This is because the child’s immune system has a chance to develop prior to being exposed to allergens when exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
Asthma – Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 4 months of life provides substantial protection against a child developing asthma even when other factors including asthma in the family, gender, prematurity and exposure to cigarette smoke are considered.
Diabetes – Studies suggest that exclusive breastfeeding decreases the likelihood that a child will become overweight or obese later in life. This leads to the belief that breastfeeding can help to prevent obesity related diseases like type 2 diabetes.
The body’s responsiveness to childhood vaccinations is said to be enhanced in breastfed children, which helps to keep the child’s immune system strong throughout childhood.
As a breastfeeding mother, you will also continue to receive many health benefits long after you baby is weaned. Mothers who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing certain types of cancer like ovarian, breast and endometrial cancer. Exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months after birth delays the return of your menstrual periods. This delays acts as a natural birth control, which allows your body to have sufficient time to fully recover from the birth experience.
Since the benefits of receiving breastmilk exclusively are long lasting for children and their mothers it helps to reinforce the fact that breastmilk is the perfect first food for all babies.
This article was contributed by Elizabeth from Breast Pumps Direct
As a nursing mother to her 1-year-old daughter and a breastfeeding counsellor, she spends a great deal of time everyday thinking, talking and writing about breastfeeding and breastmilk.
Boyles, S. (2006, September 26) Weight Benefit Seen Even if Mothers Are Obese or Have Diabetes. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/content/article/127/116842.htm
Inman, M. A. (1999, November/December) Breast Milk and Allergies: Prophylaxis or Risk? RespiratoryReviews.com. http://www.respiratoryreviews.com/novdec99/rr_novdec99_BreastMilk.html
Jackson, K. M. & Nazar, A. M. (April 2006) Breastfeeding, the Immune Response, and Long-term Health. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.http://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/106/4/203