Breastfeeding snacks has been encouraged across the world for centuries and continues to be promoted as the best source of nutrition for the first six months of a baby’s life. The following organizations highly recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life:
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- World Health Organization
- Health Canada
Breastfeeding has a wealth of benefits for both mother and baby. For the baby it not only provides excellent nutritional value, it also provides protection from infection and prevents health complication such as diabetes and obesity later in life. Breast milk is also very easy to digest and this makes it ideal for newborn babies. For the mother, breastfeeding right after delivery helps the uterus contract much faster and also speeds up recovery by reducing loss of blood. Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding also promotes the formation of a very important bond between the mother and the baby. It is the beginning of a long nurturing relationship and provides a uniquely satisfying bond for both, once which can continue well beyond the recommended six months. This is especially important because it helps the baby adjust to life outside the womb, a transition which is definitely huge for the baby. Breast feeding continues to benefit the baby even after other foods are introduced at 6 months. A mother can continue to breastfeed way beyond this point as long as she and her child wish to.
Breastfeeding also has other advantages, such as the fact that it costs nothing. Breast milk is readily available at all times and always at the right temperature. There is no time spent in preparation and no associated cost. Infant formula can cost as much as $1/oz, and can be quite a burden to bear especially considering milk is all your baby consumes for the first 6 months of life.
Other benefits of breastfeeding worth mentioning are found in the other constituents of break milk such as antimicrobial factors, hormone and growth modulators, all of which help promote the growth and development of your baby. Digestive enzymes are also part of the make-up of breast milk and make it easy to digest for your baby.
It is important to mention that there are risks associated with breastfeeding. Much of what the mother consumes is passed on to her baby via breast milk. Viruses can also be transmitted to your baby from breastfeeding. Therefore, a mother who consumes drugs, alcohol or other substance which would definitely harm an infant, risks giving them to her baby if she breastfeeds. Some medications which could harm your baby can also be transferred to your baby when you breastfeed. It is therefore very important to mention to your doctor that you are breastfeeding so he can keep this in mind when prescribing any medication to you.