Are you a new mom who is considering breastfeeding your baby exclusively for 6 months? Are you wondering if there is any benefit to exclusive breastfeeding? No need to worry; by the end of this article, you will have learned about the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. For most newborns, breast milk is the best source of nutrients. Breast milk changes as a newborn grows to meet the nutritional needs of the baby.
What is Exclusive Breastfeeding?
Exclusive breastfeeding can be defined as the act of giving your baby only breast milk for the first 6 months of their life. No water, just breast milk. Although most infant formula side effects are minor digestive concerns, some health risks can be serious or even fatal.
Finally, breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for both you and your child. Breast milk’s natural components, which consist of 87% water, 1% protein, 7% lactose, and 4% fat, help protect your baby from illness and disease during infancy. They also continue to improve your child’s health as they grow, even after weaning.
Advantages Of Exclusive Breastfeeding
- Breast milk helps your baby brain develop rapidly and keeps your child free from sickness. The first breast milk which the baby takes within the first few days of birth is called Colostrum. It comprises of protein, minerals, and vitamins.
There are stages of milk production while breastfeeding. They are:
Colostrum: Also known as the fore milk
Transitional milk: This is the milk that the baby takes from like the 7th to 21days post partum.
- Exclusive breastfeeding is economical, Yes, you heard me right. For the first six months, you do not have to spend money buying formula for your baby. Although most infant formula side effects are minor digestive concerns, some health risks can be serious or even fatal.
- Bonding: Breastfeeding helps mother and child bond well with each other. A child stares more at their mother while breastfeeding. Breast milk is a natural source of nutrients and nourishment for your infant. There are numerous advantages: you don’t have to worry about bottles, sterilization, or preparing milk; it’s right there in your breasts at the perfect temperature whenever you need it. Breast milk is nutritionally balanced and provides your baby with natural antibodies and defenses from your body. Furthermore, if your baby becomes ill, your breast milk’s immunological composition will alter, customizing it to the specific diseases your baby’s immune system is coping with.
- Exclusive breastfeeding strengthens the baby’s immune system and keeps bacteria at bay. Mothers whose babies take baby formula have to always keep the feeding bottles and breast pumps clean and sterilized. This is to avoid exposing your baby to the risk of bacterial poisoning as a result of not keeping the bottles and pumps clean and sterilized. Exclusive saves you; all you have to do after that is breastfeed and nurse. Keeping your bra and clothing clean is important.
- Some obesity in infants is mostly experienced by formula-fed babies. Exclusively fed babies are not at risk of obesity.
- Weight Lost: Some mothers tend to lose weight while breastfeeding. Exclusively breast-feeding your child may help you lose some weight if you are aiming for that. Although this doesn’t work for everyone.
- Breast milk protects infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If a blanket is to be used to keep a baby warm, it should be a thin one that only covers the baby to the height of the chest. The blanket should be kept below the level of the baby’s arms and tucked into the sides and bottom of the crib mattress to keep the baby secure.
- Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract after childbirth. This process helps the tummy return gradually to its normal shape. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of oxytocin, allowing the uterus to contract quickly. Breastfeeding also burns calories. Mothers who breastfeed their babies have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Disadvantages Of Exclusive Breastfeeding
It takes extreme dedication to be able to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months
- The risk of breast infection: Some Breastfeeding mothers experience mastitis, it is an inflammation in the breast which is caused by a clogged duct which results in painful swelling and rednessof the breast.
- Exhaustion: This is rarely talked about. There is this constant exhaustion that comes with exclusive breastfeeding; your baby is solely dependent on you to feed. And babies eat regularly, so you are always feeding them. This may be uncomfortable for busy mothers who have to go to work and take care of other kids. You must be with your infant (or, at the very least, a breast pump!) 24 hours a day. Because your infant is reliant on you for milk, it frequently means you have less independence. As a result, you may have less time for self-care and be more susceptible to tiredness.
- You will need to avoid taking medications not prescribed by your doctor. Only take medications prescribed by your doctor. When you breastfeed, you should consider your food and lifestyle. Your baby may react to various foods in your diet. As a result, you may have to give up dairy products or other foods that you enjoy.
- Furthermore, there are also some substances that should be consumed in moderation, such as caffeine and alcohol, or avoided entirely, such as smoking. Stress and other circumstances can also have an impact on breastfeeding and possibly lower your milk supply.
- Sore or cracked nipples: This occurs during the first few weeks of childbirth; unfortunately, the only way to heal the sore nipples is to keep breastfeeding. Sore nipples can be avoided by allowing the mother’s breast to air-dry for a few minutes after a feeding and changing nursing pads on a regular basis to prevent milk flow. Other precautions include expressing breast milk if the breasts are engorged and avoiding the use of soap, alcohol, and extra water on the breasts during breastfeeding initiation.
- Breastfeeding while outside the house: Many nursing moms struggle with breastfeeding in public, it can be very discomforting. To make breastfeeding in public a bit easier, nursing mother’s are advised to wear comfortable clothing and nursing bra when going out with their child.
- Your partner may feel excluded from the child.
- Exclusively breastfeed babies tend to wake up more frequent at night to eat thereby causing sleepless night to the mother.
Breast Pump During Exclusive
Some babies find it difficult to latch well while breastfeeding; this is why a breast pump is used to express milk for the infant to be able to feed. For mothers who work full-time, the mother has to wake up early to express milk in the bottle enough to last her child while she is away for work.
Breast pumps also help to relieve the pain of mastitis; all you have to do is gently press the breast milk into the feeding bottle.
Alternative To Exclusive Breastfeeding
If a mother is unable to exclusively breastfeed her child, she can choose formula feeding. Enfamil, Similac, Aptamil, Nan, SMA Gold, and other nutrient-rich formulas are examples of what you can feed your child.
You must constantly keep your child’s feeding bottles clean and thoroughly sterilized.
What Is Formula Feeding?
Formula feeding is the act of feeding a baby formula to provide nutrients and keep the baby healthy.
Reason For Formula Feeding
There are several reasons why a mother may want to formula feed her child.
- It could be as a result of low milk production.
- Illness or sickness
- A mother can also decide to Formula feed her baby due to personal reasons
Advantages of Formula Feeding
- It is adaptable, as opposed to exclusive breastfeeding. The mother might be flexible with formula feeding.
- Anyone can help you feed the baby: Your partner or loved ones can help you feed your baby. This way, you’ll have ample time to nap and do other things.
Disadvantages Of Formula Feeding
- The price: formula feeding is prohibitively expensive.
- Formula-fed babies are more likely to have a weakened immune system.
- Constipation Risk: Formula-fed babies are more likely to experience constipation. This is upsetting for both the child and the mother.
- Infection Risk: Formula-fed newborns are also at risk of infection. This could be because she used water to make the formula
Different Types Of Formula And Their Components
Enfamil Infant Formula
This is the most similar to breast milk. Enfamil contains choline and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. These two contribute to the newborn receiving brain-nourishing nutrients.
It contains protein, prebiotics, and probiotics.
Exclusive Breastfeeding is beneficial to both the mother and child for the first 6 months of the child’s life. No water, no food, just breast milk. So after 6 months, the child can be introduced to complementary feeding. Many women find breastfeeding more hectic during the first 3 months after childbirth.
Finally, WHO and UNICEF recommend that children be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives. WHO also recommends that colostrum, the yellow, sticky breast milk, be given to the baby within the first few hours of delivery. The decision to exclusively breastfeed or not is entirely up to the child’s mother. However, some mothers are unable to breastfeed due to several reasons, and that’s fine.