Why is mother’s feed so very important?
Motherhood is not just about being a mother, but it is about nurturing and caring. A newborn baby always looks up to his mother for warmth, affection, and love and a mother never fails in providing it. Choosing to breastfeed or bottle-feed her child is the biggest decision a new parent makes.
Not everyone is capable of breastfeeding and choosing between breastfeeding or bottle-feed is based on their lifestyle, comfort and sometimes even some medical conditions. Even though bottle-feed is a choice for breastfeeding, it is not considered as effective and nutritious as a mother’s feed.
Mothers Breast Milk contains a substance called Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy. World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth. Breast milk consists of the perfect balance of nutrients, a baby requires to grow healthily.
It is easier to digest as compared to formula feed and can be absorbed by the newborn properly. It also contains antibodies that help the baby fight viruses and lowers the baby’s risk of infections and other severe health conditions. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also mentioned that breastfeeding plays a vital role in the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
It has also been observed, that breastfed babies have fewer hospitalizations as compared to the bottle-fed babies. It may also protect babies from asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, diabetes, and many other diseases.
“Fed is best”
Even though breastfeeding has many benefits people have argued over its downsides too. They have questioned WHO’s “breast is best”. It is argued that breastfeeding can be physically straining and sometimes they are unable to make enough milk which can harm the baby too.
It has also been argued that a mother needs to make sure that her baby is well fed with all the nutrients and it does not matter whether it is breastfed or bottle-fed. They believe in ”fed is best”. They have argued that bottle-feed is much more feasible as any parent can feed the baby and not just the mother.
Hence it takes a load off, of the mother as she can hand her baby to a caregiver and can take a break. Women who opt for bottle-feeding, don’t have to maintain a specific diet and they are open to choices in eating and drinking.
But what they don’t understand is, not all the antibodies present in breast milk are present in formula milk, even though the manufacturers try to include all the necessary nutrients. Bottle milk is expensive too and has to be stored beforehand too. Under no circumstances can formula milk compensate for breast milk.
Breastfed v/s bottle-fed
Despite all these arguments breastfeeding still has an upper hand over bottle feed, it is nutritious and doesn’t cost anything. It also means fewer trips to hospitals, as it provides immunity to the newborn. Ideally, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for a baby up to a total of 6 months and continued breastfeeding is along with complimentary food items is recommended up to 2 years of age.
Breastfeeding also develops a “skin to skin” contact of a mother with her child and helps her develop a bond, it enhances their emotional connection and helps the baby to feel more connected with his mother and vice- versa.
Breast milk faces some challenges too. Sometimes it can be stressful for the mother too and the mother has to be on a specific diet. They have to watch what they eat or drink as it is passed on to the milk. Latch on pain is normal for the first few weeks but if it continues, then a mother can consult her doctor. Due to some specific medical conditions mothers are sometimes prohibited from breastfeeding both for their health as well as their newborn’s well- being.
Not only for babies but for mothers too!
Despite all the challenges, breast milk is not only beneficial for babies but mothers as well. Breastfeeding helps in burning extra calories and losing post-pregnancy weight.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of long term obesity. It also releases the hormone oxytocin which helps in contracting the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size. It also lowers the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. By breastfeeding, a mother feels emotionally connected with her baby and the maternal bond strengthens.
Mother’s Feed: The most natural Act
Breastfeeding is not only a gift to her child, but to herself too. Breastfeeding is the most natural act and helps a mother strengthen her relationship with her child and also enhances her maternal instincts.
There is no substitute for mother’s milk. It not only provides the baby with the essential nutrients but also provides it with a mother’s warmth and a sense of security. Instead of promoting breastfeeding, let’s support it. While it may not be a choice for every parent, but it is definitely the best choice for a baby.