Breastfeeding has become more widely accepted over the years, but it’s still a contentious, polarizing, and provocative issue. The social stigma of breastfeeding in public remains, and health experts still disagree on how long a mother needs to breastfeed her child.
But what no longer needs further debate is the fact that breast milk is healthier than infant formula, says Dr. Joseph Mercola. Breast milk contains at least 400 nutrients which are not found in infant formula. Dr. Mercola gives mothers 7 reasons why breastfeeding is best for babies:
- Breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immune system
Studies show that babies who have been breastfed exclusively have better functioning immune systems and have added protection against allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, eczema, heart disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma, respiratory infections, and Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Breast milk contains antibodies and gives an infant immunity to illnesses that the mother is immune to. Also, if a baby is exposed to a germ, he/she will transfer it back to the mother while nursing. The mother’s body will then manufacture antibodies to that particular germ and transfer them back to the baby at the next feeding, Dr. Mercola explains.
- Breastfeeding is good for your baby’s brain
Breastfed babies tend to have higher IQs than babies fed with infant formula. An 18-year study of over 1,000 children showed that kids who were breastfed achieved more academically than kids who were formula-fed as babies. Interestingly, breastfed babies spend more time in what is called the “quiet alert” state, which is most conducive for learning, Dr. Mercola points out.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity
Breast milk contains high levels of adiponectin, a protein which affects how the body processes fat. Low levels of adiponectin have been associated with coronary artery disease, insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The risk of obesity appears to be lowered the longer a child is breastfed.
- Breastfeeding helps babies develop emotionally
Babies need to be held. The physical act of nursing is one of the most comforting things for a newborn. Leaving a baby alone with a bottle does not make him/her feel safe or secure. Breastfeeding also stimulates the release of the hormone, oxytocin, which facilitates maternal behavior and bonding between mothers and their newborns.
- Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of cancer and other diseases
Breastfeeding women were shown to have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis later in life.
- Breastfeeding helps mothers lose weight faster
Mothers who breastfeed return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster. A woman needs about 500 calories daily to produce milk and breastfeed – the equivalent of a 5-mile jog. Breastfeeding also stimulates contractions in the uterus that help it go back to its normal, pre-pregnancy size faster and reduce lower body fat.
- Breastfeeding helps save time and money
Mothers don’t have to prepare bottles and infant formula because breast milk is always fresh and ready to go. The economy has been tough and mothers can save some money because they don’t need to buy infant formula. Breastfed babies also tend to require fewer visits to the doctor and therefore, decreased medical expenses.