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  • Writer's pictureMaternity Nurse Hong Kong

The many advantages of Breastfeeding

There is no substitute for 'mother's milk', and by breastfeeding your baby, even if it is just for the first six months, you will be giving your child the best start to life. Breast milk contains a huge amount of beneficial ingredients, that 'Mother Nature' fashioned especially for your bundle of joy. If you are unsure to try it from any conflicting stories you may have heard, try and consider the following:

Colostrum Colostrum, (the yellowish fluid available at birth) contains antibodies that fight diseases such as polio, tetanus, whooping cough and gastroenteritis, or those you have either had or been immunised against. And with your baby's own immune system only taking effect after a few months, it does offer peace of mind, knowing that he/she is being supplied with some form of protection.

'The ideal food' Unlike cow's milk that needs to be altered before it is suitable for feeding your baby, breast milk is perfect in it's natural form and is produced at exactly the right temperature too. And who knows, there may even be two different flavours to this wonder work. 'Foremilk' is expressed at the beginning of the feed, this is needed to quench the baby's thirst, and as the feed progresses 'hindmilk' will be made which will act as the main meal.

Shielding against allergies Allergy to cow's milk can cause endless problems, such as eczema, asthma, colic and hayfever, and with your baby being totally tolerable of your milk these problems are less frequent. If there is a family history of allergy, it is recommended that you breast-feed your baby for at least the first six months, to give him/her the maximum protection needed.

Resistance to infection Breast milk lines your baby's stomach, providing added protection against infection throughout the breast feeding period and setting up a long term barrier too.

Reduced Risk of SIDS

Researchers have revealed that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) was 40 percent less likely in babies who were breastfed for a minimum of two months, growing to 64 percent in cases where babies were breastfed for six months or longer.

Laxative qualities Breast milk helps in clearing the baby's intestines of meconium (the sticky substance which is contained in the intestines at birth), and because it is so easily absorbed it prevents the discomfort of hard dry stools with the smell being less offensive than those of their bottle-fed counterparts.

Tooth talk Faulty mouth development, resulting in misplaced teeth are phenomenally higher in bottle fed babies, and children who were breast fed for more than three months have been shown to have far less tooth decay.

Convenience One of the biggest advantages of breast feeding is that there is a constant supply of food for your baby. There will however be times when your milk supply will seem more plentiful than others, but there will always be a ready-made meal waiting to be consumed. This also has the added advantage of not having to get up in the middle of the night to sterilize and prepare bottles.

Regaining your shape Breast feeding benefits the mother too, as every time the baby sucks, the uterus contracts, until it returns to it's normal size, therefore helping you to regain your pre-pregnancy figure sooner. You may experience 'afterpains' while breastfeeding, but these soon pass.

Money wise Breast milk comes ready packed in it's own special container, so there is no need to buy all the equipment and artificial milk that is needed for bottle feeding.

Blissful bonding Probably one of the finest reasons for breast feeding is the closeness shared between mother and baby. Nothing can compare to the inner comfort and love that is experienced when you hold your creation to your breast. Baby bonding is a crucial part of motherhood, and enjoying a cuddle together while feeding is a wonderful way of guaranteeing yourself some much needed rest and relaxation.

Breastfeeding promotes a healthy intimate relationship between mother and child, so why not offer the best there is!

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