Every woman who sets on her journey toward motherhood aspires to master the art of breastfeeding for the sake of a healthy child. However, despite their best efforts, some mothers may be unable to breastfeed their babies due to various reasons. Eventually, they end up switching to formula. However, such new mommies who can breastfeed, but not for long, can give a shot to breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months. This duration should be sufficient enough for the baby’s health according to experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) (1). Here are 8 reasons how 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding can do wonders, both for the mother and the baby, according to WHO doctors.
1. Naturally Burns Calories
Many women generally worry about the extra weight gained during pregnancy. There is nothing wrong in wanting to get back in shape but do so naturally. And what better, healthier way to do it than breastfeeding. You may think you are sitting idle for hours while breastfeeding. But, in reality, you are actually burning calories by the dozen while your baby is happily having his/her food.
2. Prevents SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, puts the parents of a newborn on tenterhooks until the newborn is out of the risk zone (the first one year). And, doctors are yet to find out conclusively what really causes this among some infants. However, a research proves that breastfeeding babies exclusively protects them against SIDS (2). So, continue to breastfeed your baby for it is not only healthy but life-saving as well.
3. Reduces Risk Of Childhood Leukemia
According to a study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics, breastfeeding your baby exclusively for 6 months reduces the chances of childhood leukemia by 20% compared to babies who are not breastfed at all (3). However, this does not mean that such babies may not be at any risk at all. But giving them a 20% chance for a healthy life is a shot worth taking, that too just by feeding your baby.
4. Lesser Ear Infections
It is common for newborn babies to get ear infections. Some believe that breastfeeding while lying down causes ear pain. But this is not true. In fact, it is better to breastfeed even during an instance of an ear infection. It not only improves the baby’s immunity but also reduces his/her dependence on antibiotics to overcome the infection. However, do consult a pediatrician if the condition persists.
5. Develops Immune System
This one is actually a no-brainer. The number of nutrients present in breast milk, including the protein and fat, are perfect for a newborn baby’s underdeveloped immune system (4). And the best part is that the breast milk adjusts to the baby’s nutritional needs over time to suit the child and his/her developing immunity.
6. Facilitates Mother-Baby Bonding
A new mother is generally busy running errands at home, most of which are for her baby. This is where breastfeeding comes in as a blessing in disguise. It is the time when a mother gets to sit exclusively with her baby. So, while the baby happily suckles as the mother holds him/her close, she gets to bond with her baby at an emotional level.
7. Supplements Enzymes
An adult digestive system produces its own enzymes to help in digestion. However, infants are yet to develop these enzymes making it difficult for the food to get properly digested. That is why breast milk is a boon. Apart from the nutrients, it also contains digestive enzymes which make it easily digestible.
8. Lowers Risk Of Breast Cancer
Another blessing of breastfeeding, this time for the mothers. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research and WHO, breastfeeding exclusively for six months reduces the chances of pre and postmenopausal breast cancer. One more reason why you could consider breastfeeding for a longer time if you can.
There are many more benefits of breastfeeding your baby. If you are a mother who is unable to breastfeed for specific reasons, it is alright if you made the choice to switch to formula. It is for your baby’s sake after all. But if you are someone who’s at the fence, that is, yet to make a choice, then try and breastfeed your baby for at least six months. You will be grateful for this decision later on.