Having a newborn baby can be an extremely joyful experience and at the same time very challenging as well.
Importantly, one of the main issues new parents face is in the feeding of their baby. For some, especially new parents, the experience can seem a bit demanding as having a child who has to cry each time they require attention is not an easy thing to deal with. However, with the right support and information, parents and their babies can thrive through the child’s early years.
In order for the child to grow and develop as expected, they need adequate nutrition on a regular basis and this is where breastfeeding is very important. According to UNICEF, in Nigeria, only about 2 in every 10 children are exclusively breastfed during their first 6 months of life.
Exclusive breastfeeding means feeding the baby with breast milk only, and it is recommended for the first 6 months of the baby’s life.
So, what then are the benefits of breastfeeding?
We shall talk about this in terms of benefits to the child and to the mother.
Benefits to the child
- Breast milk is completely natural and contains the right amount of nutrients that the baby needs
- Breast milk is readily available to the baby when it is needed
- Breastfeeding helps to build a strong bond between the child and the mother
- Breast milk helps to build the child’s immunity against infections and also protects the child against certain diseases like heart disease, obesity, and blood disorders
- Breast milk helps the development of the child’s brain
Benefits to the mother
- Breastfeeding can help to maintain your weight within the healthy range as it aids weight loss
- It may help you reduce your risk of developing depression after childbirth
- Breastfeeding helps to reduce the risk of developing certain medical conditions such as heart disease, breast cancer or cancer of the breast.
- Breastfeeding could help save the money that would have otherwise been spent on baby formula.
The bottom line is that exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months is recommended for all babies. However, we know that some mothers will not be able to breastfeed either due to medical or other problems. In such situations, it is absolutely normal to feed with baby formula.