21 Apr 2023 | 6 min Read
Author | 961 Articles
In a recent interview with Grazia India, actor, and new mum Sonam Kapoor revealed that she is still breastfeeding her son Vayu. She said, “I’m not back to what I used to be and I’m not even pushing myself – I’m still breastfeeding, and I hope to continue for at least a year. Your body needs the food, rest, and energy while you’re doing that. I’m not on any crazy diet, I’m exercising – I exercised through my pregnancy – to be healthy. I took care of myself through my pregnancy and I’m going to continue doing that and not check the scales,” said Sonam.
Besides Sonam Kapoor, other celebrities like Alia Bhatt, Neha Dhupia, and Kareena Kapoor also believe in exclusive breastfeeding and we do too. Breast milk is often hailed as the “liquid gold” for infants and for good reason. It is a complete and unparalleled source of nutrition, specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of newborns and infants.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by continued breastfeeding along with the introduction of solid foods for up to two years or beyond.
We’ve listed down some phenomenal nutritional benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding for infants, which contribute to their optimal growth, development, and overall health.
Breast milk adapts to the changing needs of a growing baby. That’s not all, breastmilk has a host of benefits for your baby, including
In the first few days following birth, mothers produce colostrum – a thick, yellowish substance rich in antibodies, protein, and essential nutrients. Colostrum is often referred to as “baby’s first vaccine” due to its immune-boosting properties.
As your baby grows, the milk’s composition transitions to include the perfect balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals required for healthy development.
Breast milk is abundant in proteins that are easily digestible by a newborn’s immature digestive system. It contains two main types of proteins – whey, and casein. The ratio of whey to casein in breast milk is approximately 60:40, which is ideal for infant digestion. In contrast, cow’s milk and most infant formula have a higher casein content, making them more challenging for infants to digest.
Breast milk is a rich source of essential fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). These long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are crucial for the proper development of your baby’s brain, eyes, and nervous system. Although some infant formulas are fortified with DHA and ARA, they may not be as readily absorbed as those naturally found in breast milk.
Lactose is the primary carbohydrate found in breast milk. It provides energy and supports the absorption of calcium and other minerals. Additionally, lactose helps establish beneficial gut bacteria, which are vital for a healthy digestive system.
Breast milk contains an array of vitamins and minerals essential for a baby’s growth and development. While some vitamins are found in consistent amounts, others, like vitamins A, D, and K depend on the mother’s diet and exposure to sunlight. Mothers are often encouraged to take supplements to ensure adequate levels of these vitamins in their breast milk.
Breast milk is packed with bioactive components, such as immunoglobulins, enzymes, and growth factors, that provide immune protection and support a baby’s developing immune system. These factors help protect against infections and illnesses, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, which are common in infants.
Breast milk contains prebiotics, which are non-digestible food components that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. It also contains probiotics – live bacteria that contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome is essential for a strong immune system and overall health.
Breast milk contains various hormones and growth factors that support your baby’s growth, development, and organ maturation. These factors include insulin-like growth factor (IGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), and leptin. Each plays a vital role in regulating appetite, metabolism, and tissue growth.
Breast milk is a remarkable substance intricately designed to cater to the specific nutritional needs of a growing infant. Its unique composition of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, immunity boosters, and growth factors ensures that babies receive optimal nourishment during their critical early stages of life.
In addition to providing sustenance, breast milk also helps establish a healthy gut microbiome, bolsters the immune system, and fosters cognitive and physical development.
The act of breastfeeding itself fosters a deep emotional bond between the mother and child, offering warmth, comfort, and security. Skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding promotes the release of oxytocin, a hormone that strengthens the attachment between the mother and baby, and supports the mother’s postpartum recovery.
Breastfeeding offers various health benefits for mothers, including a lower risk of postpartum depression, reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and faster postpartum recovery. The process of breastfeeding also helps with uterine contractions, which can expedite the return of the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size. Additionally, breastfeeding can contribute to natural postpartum weight loss as it burns extra calories.
Breastfeeding is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly feeding option. It eliminates the need for purchasing formula, bottles, and other feeding supplies, significantly reducing family expenses. Furthermore, breastfeeding produces no waste, which contributes to a more sustainable environment by reducing the use of plastic, packaging materials, and resources needed for the production and transportation of formula.
Encouraging breastfeeding and providing support to mothers is crucial to ensure the well-being of infants and mums.
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