Liquid Gold!

By Yafa’ Ajweh, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

The benefits of breast milk cannot be overstated. Scientists have yet to discover everything contained in breast milk, which means it’s impossible to create a formula that is identical to breast milk.

Did you know that breast milk adapts to exactly what your baby needs at any given time? If a baby is born premature, the mother’s body knows and creates breast milk specifically for the baby’s needs. About halfway through the pregnancy, a woman will start making what is called colostrum. This is the first milk that the baby receives; it’s like a shot of immunological protection for a baby and that’s why it is popularly called “liquid gold”.

At six weeks, breast milk has its highest concentration of antibodies. At three months, breast milk is full of calories to bulk up for upcoming milestones. At 12 months and beyond, breast milk is high in calories and omega acids for muscle growth and brain development. The long-term benefits of breast milk include:

  •   Reducing infectious diseases in early and later childhood
  •   Promoting optimal brain development
  •   Providing protection for premature infants against life-threatening illnesses

The most magical thing about breast milk is that it goes beyond improving your baby’s health, it also has important benefits for you, the community and environment.

Here are eight reasons why breast milk is magical:

1. Breast milk helps protect the environment

Breast milk is the most ecologically and sustainable food in the world. It improves food security for all infants and young children as it is usually readily available and free to provide an infant with super food. Breast milk is renewable and requires no containers and no transportation to deliver or fuel to prepare. However, formula requires packaging that eventually ends up in a landfill. Researchers estimate that 150 million containers of formula are consumed for every one million formula-fed babies.

2. Breast milk promotes public health

Infectious diseases, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are all significantly reduced with breastfeeding. The diverse protective factors of breast milk have been studied, such as the role of hormones in breast milk in increasing appetite satisfaction.

3. Breast milk saves money and time

Many Jordanian children are not benefiting from something that is free and available to them! Did you know you could save so much money just by breastfeeding and not buying costly infant formula? Being breastfed also means less illnesses, less hospital visits and less prescriptions.

4. Breastfeeding saves our health care system a lot of money

Increased rates of breastfeeding can reduce cases of acute and chronic illnesses. A recent study that evaluated costs associated with additional illnesses and diseases in the United States found that if 90 per cent of mothers exclusively breastfed for six months, it would save the healthcare system JD9 billion each year and prevent over 900 infant deaths.

5. Breast milk can help protect a baby from getting sick

Did you know you can breastfeed even if you are  sick yourself? In fact, breast milk helps protect your baby. Even when a mother is sick, breast milk contains antibodies to reduce her baby’s risk of getting the same illness. Remember, the best thing you can do for your baby when you are sick is to continue to breastfeed and take care of yourself.

6. Breastfeeding beyond 12 months has even more benefits

Breast milk contains all the basic nutrients required for the growth of the baby and is changing constantly to adjust to the baby’s needs based on age. Longer duration of breastfeeding can protect babies from childhood cancers like leukaemia, Hodgkin’s disease and certain cancers of the central nervous system. What’s more, the longer a baby is breastfed, the more likely your baby will have higher intelligence. A study published in The Lancet Global Health journal, which followed a group of almost 4,000 newborns for 30 years, found the link between breastfeeding and intelligence, educational achievement and income.

7. Breastfeeding has psychological benefits too

Breastfeeding is more than nutritious food and an immunity enhancer. Many things are going on during nursing – the baby smells mama, feels the rhythm of her breathing and hears the rhythm of her heartbeats, all things that make a baby feel secure, protected and loved. This then forms the basis of positive communication and social skills later in life. Also, breastfeeding releases a calming hormone in the mother’s body, which has a positive effect on her relationship with her baby.

8. Breastfeeding benefits mama’s health too

Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s breast cancer risk and has other health benefits, including reduced risk for endometrial and ovarian cancers and chronic conditions that are also risk factors for cancer, such as hypertension and diabetes. Breastfeeding can also reduce blood pressure after menopause and decreases the risk of developing osteoporosis.   

You can contact Ajweh

yafa_a_@hotmail.com

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