Babies tend to get the wholesome nutrition they need from breast milk, which formula milk cannot match. Breast milk provides the ideal combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that a baby needs. It also provides antibodies needed to fight off viruses and bacteria in a form more easily digested than infant formula milk. The advantages of breast milk are not just limited to better resistance against diseases but also a higher IQ later in the newborn’s life and numerous health benefits for the mother.
Here are the detailed health benefits of breastfeeding
A study by WHO (World Health Organization) revealed that almost one third of infant deaths are caused by inadequate nutrition. It has been proven that breast milk provides a number of nutrients that formula milk does not. These nutrients include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Provision of antibodies
At birth, babies do not have a fully developed immune system. A baby can easily get diseases such as jaundice, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza. Compared to formula milk, breast milk has more antibodies that help a baby build resistance. Opting to not breastfeed would mean lower immunity and higher chances of the baby falling ill.
Many studies agree that breastfeeding leads to a higher IQ later on in the baby’s life. Research suggests that higher IQ as a result of breastfeeding also brings about higher income. However there are no studies which show formula milk does either.
Fewer respiratory infections, diarrhea and ear infections
Newborn baby care includes taking frequent trips to the doctor. The chances of new born babies falling sick due to respiratory infections, diarrhea and ear infections are reduced when they take breast milk as opposed to formula milk, as breast milk provides better nutrition and more antibodies.
Lower risks of asthma or allergies
Asthma and allergies last a lifetime and prevent the baby from doing many things when he/she gets older. This problem’s likelihood will reduce if the mother breastfeeds.
Lower risk of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome)
This may seem like a very uncommon and rare disease but SIDS or cot death is the leading cause of infant deaths aged between one month and one year. Breastfeeding has been proven to reduce the occurrence of SIDS whereas formula milk does not.
Better health for the mother
Pregnancy and baby birth are very strenuous for the mother’s health but newborn baby care does not have to be. Breastfeeding allows the mother to lose pregnancy weight and return her uterus to its previous size. It also reduces the chances of breast and ovarian cancer as well as osteoporosis.
It is also cheaper for the family of the newborn baby as maternity wear is a lot cheaper than formula milk and its sterilization equipment. Maternity wear is also more easily available than formula milk.
Thus a common debate among women during pregnancy and those with a newborn baby is whether to feed breast milk or formula milk. Your decision should be based on the health benefits that you and your newborn baby can derive.