Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the natural way of feeding a baby, and it is a most rewarding experience for both mother and baby. The early days are a learning period; and, with the correct support and information at this time, most women breastfeed successfully.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding:

  • Breastmilk is "species-specific" which means that it is the very best milk for human babies.
  • Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for at least the first six months of life and continues to be an important part of his/her diet throughout the first few years (as long as both are happy to continue with breastfeeding), until weaning occurs at a mutually convenient time.
  • The colostrum your baby receives, and the breastmilk that follows, contains a range of protective factors that help to increase your baby's resistance to infection.
  • Research shows that breastfed babies have the potential for a higher intelligence because breast milk contains the fatty acids important in brain development. Lactose is also important for brain development. Human milk has the highest levels of lactose of all the mammalian milks because humans have the biggest brains. The baby's brain keeps developing well into the second year.
  • Because babies feed from both breasts, they receive visual and tactile stimulation during feeds on alternate sides. This helps brain development in the area of left or right hemispherical dominance.
  • Ensuring that your baby has only breastmilk for at least six months may help lessen allergy problems. It is especially helpful if the mother avoids any known familial allergens in the diet until this time and then gradually reintroduces them as the baby gets closer to one year old. In this way, the baby is sensitised in a gradual manner through the breastmilk and may then be free from the symptoms of allergy.
  • Infants' eyesight, speech and jaw development are all known to be enhanced by breastfeeding.
  • Breastfed babies have a higher resistance to disease and are less likely to become sick.
  • Breastfeeding is one of the recommendations for lowering the risk of SIDS.
  • Breastfeeding may lower the risk of your baby developing juvenile diabetes in the future. It may also reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Breastfeeding helps a mother's body return to its pre-pregnant state more quickly. Many women also find they lose excess weight while breastfeeding.
  • Ongoing research is showing that breastfeeding may lessen the incidence of cancer of the breast and ovaries, heart disease and osteoporosis in the mother.
  • Breastfeeding delays the return of menstruation in most women. Breastfeeding's contraceptive effect can delay the return of fertility in most women.
  • Breastfeeding is usually easy and convenient (you always have a free hand). Breastfed babies are very portable and you have an instant, safe, pre-warmed, ready-to-serve food wherever you go.
  • As a totally sustainable resource, breastfeeding is also good for the environment.

Breastfeeding problems and possible solutions are discussed further in the Apendix - see the download link below.

All pages in this section come from the Appendix of my book The Homoeopathic Physician's Guide to Lactation. Permission is given for this information to be downloaded to assist mothers who are having problems with breastfeeding just so long as acknowledgement of authorship is maintained.

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Patricia Hatherly

BA DipEd BHSc(Homoeopathy) AROH MAHA ANPA
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