Breast Feeding and its Benefits

Published 1st August 2021 | Dr Ujwala Parashar

August 1st – August 7th is “World Breastfeeding Week” so we thought this would be the perfect time to write an article on breast feeding and its benefits.

Everything your baby needs to grow

Breast feeding has enormous benefits for your baby as it provides ideal nutrition with the perfect mix of vitamins, protein and fat – all the things your baby needs to grow!  

Although formula manufacturers do their best to copy breastmilk, it will never be exactly the same in how it tastes or the benefits it offers to your baby.

Colostrum– liquid gold for your new baby

Colostrum is the first stage of breast milk production during pregnancy, and the first milk your baby gets when you start breastfeeding. It lasts for several days after you give birth and is loaded with nutrients and immunity boosters.

Although you only produce colostrum in small amounts, it is packed full of nutrition and contains everything your baby needs in their first few days of life. It is much higher in protein and lower in fat and sugar than transitional and mature breast milk, and helps your baby to fight off infection, viruses, bacteria, illness and disease. 

Colostrum is easily digested and absorbed by your baby – especially their rapidly developing brain; and has factors that promote gut maturation and good digestion. It is also a natural laxative and helps your newborn move their bowels and helps to prevent jaundice.

Often referred to as “liquid gold”, colostrum is perfectly designed nutrition for your newborn baby.

Transitional and mature breast milk

On around day 3 of breastfeeding, your transitional milk will be produced. Babies only need breast milk for their first six months of life and no other food source.  Breast milk  adapts to your baby’s changing needs as they get older and even during each feed!

When your baby drinks breast milk, the first milk is thirst quenching, and the last milk is creamy, rich and full of good fats. The taste of breast milk also changes depending upon what the mother has eaten, so breast fed babies are often more likely to try new tastes as they move onto solid foods.

Other known advantages of breastfed babies

Breast milk is not only the ideal nutrition for babies, its also more easily digestible. Research has shown that breastfed babies have:

·       Stronger immune systems.

·       Better gut health with less diarrhea, constipation, gastroenteritis and reflux.

·       Fewer colds and respiratory illnesses.

·       Fewer ear infections.

·       Fewer cases of bacterial meningitis.

·       Better vision.

·       Better for speech, jaw and mouth development.

·       Lower rates of infant mortality.

·       Lower rates of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrom).

·       Overall, less illness and hospitalisation.

Breastfeeding provides life-long health benefits

It’s widely believed that breastfeeding your baby provides them with life-long health benefits as older children, teens and adults.

Breastfeeding is better for mums too!

As well as all the benefits breastfeeding delivers to your baby, it’s also better for you physically, and emotionally to breastfeed. 

Some of the known physical benefits for breastfeeding mums include:

·       Breastfeeding promotes faster weight loss after your baby delivery as you burn extra calories to build and maintain a milk supply.

·       It stimulates the uterus to contract and return to normal size.

·       There is less postpartum bleeding.

·       Breastfeeding mums have fewer urinary tract infections.

·       There is less chance of developing anemia.

·       There is less risk of postpartum depression.

Some known emotional benefits for breastfeeding mums include:

·       The production of oxytocin and prolactin which are naturally occurring soothing hormones the promote stress reduction and positive feelings.

·       Increased calmness as breastfed babies cry less overall and have fewer childhood illnesses.

·       Increased confidence and self-esteem.

·       Less stress when out for the day or travelling as breast milk is free; it’s always clean and always at the right temperature!

·       Promotes physical and emotional bonding between you and your baby through skin-to-skin contact, holding and stroking.

·       Better sleep cycles than mums who formula feed.

Life-long health benefits for breastfeeding mums are believed to include:

·       Lowers the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

·       Lowers the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

·       Less osteoporosis.

·       Less endometriosis, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

How long should you breastfeed for?

It’s really up to you to decide how long to breastfeed for, but there are some guidelines.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends all babies be exclusively breastfed for six months and are then gradually introduced to solid food at that time, with breastfeeding continuing till the infant is two years or beyond.

Remember, that if you stop breastfeeding before you baby is 12 months old, you will need to give them infant formula up until their first birthday as milk remains the most important food for babies. Solids at this age are really for “tastes” as they are unable to ingest much of what they eat, and it therefore doesn’t provide them with the needed nutritional value. 

We offer a unique range of services for pregnant mums

As part of our practice’s unique offering, all our patients are provided with personalised guiding and breastfeeding support at home by our lovely practice midwife Jane Grant. 

Dr Ujwala Parashar, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Sam Samant

Dr Ujwala Parashar is a highly trained female obstetrician and gynaecologist with over 15 years of professional experience and training, practicing in Sydney's North Shore and Barangaroo. If you would like more information on conception, or if you are seeking obstetric options and advice, please contact us or call 1300 811 827 to arrange a consultation with her.