Benefits of breastfeeding

One of the basic nutrition for kids, breast milk is very important for the overall good health of a new infant. It is a source of necessary nutrients that helps in reducing the risk of infections and many diseases in babies. “Since it’s easily digested, breast milk causes no constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach. It may also help children avoid a host of other diseases that may strike later in life like diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease,” Dr Reenu Jain, Senior Consultants, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jaypee Hospital, Noida says.

Here are the other benefits:

* Breast milk contains vital vitamins and nutrients that your baby needs in the first six months of life. The first three month of breastfeeding is crucial because it contains antibodies that help your baby fight against harmful viruses and bacteria.

* It provides protection against respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal diseases and allergies including asthma, eczema and atopic dermatitis. Besides, it reduces your child’s risk of future obesity.

* Breastfeeding increases oxytocin production, a hormone that helps in contractions of uterus and excess blood loss after delivery.

* Not only babies, breastfeeding has advantages for mothers also. “Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that contracts uterus and helps delivery of placenta and controls bleeding after delivery”, says Dr Anu Sridhar, Consultant, Obstetrics And Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore.

* Breastfeeding also lowers risk of breast and ovaries cancer in mothers. It helps in protection against another pregnancy and further helps regain figure.

Things new mothers need to take care of:

A variety of foods need to be consumed that contain calories, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread and cereals is necessary. Staying hydrated is a must.

“While breastfeeding, consumption of alcohol and smoking is to be strictly avoided at all cost. It not only intoxicates the mother’s milk but also makes the milk taste bad due to which the baby may feed less or stop feeding entirely”, says Dr Jain.

“While breastfeeding mothers should also avoid intake of such spices, veggies and fruits that have a laxative effect”, she continues.

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