I am a huge huge fan of exclusively breastfeeding your baby till they are six months old. I am saying this because I have seen the magic of breast milk.
My daughter was born at 36 weeks and weighed 1.98 kgs. She was at high risk of infection, since it was not a full-term pregnancy. We were fortunate enough to get the right medical assistance on time, but doctors said she would take 6 months to be at par with other babies. I was discharged with a list of warnings about babies with low birth weight, do’s and don’t and infections etc.
I had read a bunch of books and articles about breastfeeding, especially about the power of the milk that the mother gets right in the beginning (colostrum), popularly known as ‘golden pearls’. I had full faith that my little girl would catch up with her weight as per the growth chart. The paediatrician had warned me that it would take at least six months, but we got there much faster than I had expected.
Breastfeeding is not easy; it might’ve be a cakewalk for a lucky few ‘blessed’ mommies. For me, it was tough – I struggled a lot with latching, positioning, bleeding and sore nipples. But I didn’t give up, for even a single feed. I would encourage all mothers to exclusively breastfeed, until you can. I am inspired by modern age working moms, who express and/or freeze breast milk, without it losing any nutritional value at all. Formula feed can be hard for babies to digest, and even more so for premature babies, as it is made from cows milk, and it often takes time for babies’ stomachs to adjust digesting it.
Why Breastfeeding is Important
- Breast milk has all the nutrients, calories, and fluids a baby needs to be healthy
- It has many substances that formulas don’t have that help protect babies from many diseases and infections. In fact, breast-fed babies are less likely to catch infections in the long run as well
- Breast milk contains antibodies that helps fight off viruses. Exclusively breast-fed babies hardly ever get any stomach, respiratory or ear infections, contrary to formula-fed babies. (yes,even one top feed can cause harm)
- Breast-fed babies are less prone to chronic illnesses, as the cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illnesses. This protection is unique and changes to meet your baby’s needs
- Breast milk has growth factors that ensure the best development of your baby’s organs
- Mother-child bonding increases. When you are the sole source of nourishment for your baby, you feel way more responsible and maternal. This also increases the warmth and closeness; the physical contact you have with your baby in the initial days will create a special bond matched by none in the world
- Breast milk is easier for babies to digest
- Breast milk requires no preparation time and is always available
Remember, when you choose to breastfeed, you make an investment in your baby’s future and give your baby the healthy start that will last a lifetime.
No one said breast feeding will be easy and no number of parenting classes prepped me for the real experience – sleepless nights, sore breasts, unlimited feeds and a crying baby. But when I held my daughter for the first time I only wanted the best for her-in every way! I believed in ‘a mother knows best’ and with complete support from my husband, today I encourage everyone to please try and exclusively feed your baby. It doesn’t make you less of a mother if you don’t, but it just helps.
Image source: corbis