By Jane Kingsu-Cheng
Over the past decade, breastfeeding has become the norm. Support groups come in many forms—our own mothers, to our friends and family, even our nannies. Doctors also agree that breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby.
One such doctor is Dr. Yogi Reyes. She’s a family physician who purely breastfed her three daughters for at least 15 months. “At a time when breastfeeding wasn’t in vogue, I insisted on breastfeeding my children because of the benefits I read about,” she recounts. Here, she shares her top five reasons why breastfeeding is good, and it’s not just for the baby.
- For the baby
Breast milk is nutritionally superior to formula. Protein fat and iron is easier to digest and therefore more absorbable than that in formula. Because of this, a purely breastfed baby grows faster, gains weight and length faster.
Cognitive development is faster in breastfed babies. There is more stimulation of the five senses.
There is emotional gratification. Constant human touch, smell, sound coming from the mother makes for a happier more emotionally-gratified baby.
Breastfed infants have fewer intestinal and respiratory infections, are less likely to be hospitalized and have a lower risk of developing certain chronic conditions like obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, and leukemia. The close bond as a result of this breastfeeding relationship has positive repercussions for a child’s life and future, in terms of behavior, speech, sense of well-being and security
- For the mother
Convenience: Nothing to prepare or measure or sterilize or clean.
Economics: There is practically no money cost to pure breastfeeding.
Health advantages: Pure breastfeeding for 12 months decreases breast cancer risk by 4.3 percent.. Pure breastfeeding also helps in birth spacing. It stimulates the production of oxytocin, the happy hormone. This also contracts uterus and hastens return of uterus to usual pre-pregnancy size, thus decreasing risks of postpartum bleeding.
- For family
A breastfeeding mother saves money for the family. Plus decreases risks of infant disease as well as maternal disease. Breastfeeding encourages pro active parenting and is therefore healthy for the whole family.
- For society
Children who are breastfed consistently perform better in intelligence tests. In some studies, they do so by as many as seven IQ points. And with higher intelligence there comes a high probability for higher average earnings.
Employees of breastfed babies need to take less time off to care for sick children as they tend to be healthier throughout their infancy and childhood.
- For Mother Earth
Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly. It is a renewable resource that does not require heating, packaging and transport to deliver and has minimal carbon footprint compared to formula milk. Promoting breast milk not only has social, medical and economic benefits. It is also environmentally friendly; you save around 4,000 liters of the water needed to produce a kilo of formula powder.