-THE ADVANTAGES OF BREAST FEEDING TO THE MOTHER
-BREAST MILK AND VITAMIN D
As seen in the previous article, BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING TO THE BABY, breast feeding is of immense benefit to the baby. No wonder it has been promoted as the best way of feeding infants for at least, the first six months of life. But what are the effects of breast feeding on the mother. Interestingly, breast feeding is also associated with a lot of great benefits to the mother as well. This article will shed some light on some of the great benefits of breast feeding on to the mother.
THE ADVANTAGES OF BREAST FEEEDING TO THE MOTHER
1. RELEASES THE HORMONES OXYTOCIN AND PROLACTIN
Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin from the brain. The oxytocin in turn, causes the womb to contract, the nipples to release milk and increases the bonding between the mother and the baby, The prolactin on the other hand increases the production of milk by the breast. What this mean is that breast feeding if started immediately after birth, protects the mother from excessive bleeding by causing the womb to contract therby clamping on blood vessels at the base of the placenta and thus reducing the amount of blood lost immediately after birth. It also boosts the mother’s self esteem and confidence by ensuring adequate milk secretion and production few days after commencement of breast feeding while ensuring a strong bond between the mother and the baby. Because of the strong contraction of the womb caused by the released oxytocin during breast feeding, the womb of breast feeding mothers return earliar into the pelvis than the womb of non breast feeding mothers. Thus the baby bump flattens earlier and faster in breat feeding mothers.
2. CONVENIENT AND REQUIRES NO STERILIZATION
Breast-feeding is the most convenient method of feeding an infant, requiring no preparation and is always available once established. This can be of real benefit when you are tired and woken in the middle of the night to feed your baby.
3. FREE AND FINANCIALLY SAVVY
Formula feeds costs on the average about 250,000 naira to 500,000 naira a year excluding the cost of bottles and sterilizer. Considering the financial implication of formula feeds, it is only smart and wise to exclusively breast feed your baby for at-least six months as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO).
4. WEIGHT CONTROL
It is way far easier to loose weight gained during pregnancy when you breast-feed than when you don’t. This is because the process of lactation and breast feeding is a highly energy consuming process that helps burn fats especially those around your tummy helping you to return more quickly to your pre-pregnancy weight and size.
5. PROTECTS AGAINST THE FOLLOWING DISEASES
6. MAY SERVE AS A FORM OF CONTRACEPTION
Breast feeding may serve as a reliable form of contraception in the first six months of delivery strictly under the following conditions;
1. exclusive breastfeeding of the baby on demand within the first six months of delivery and
2. if the menstrual period has not yet resumed.
This form of contraception which is also known as Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is 98% effective as a family planning method only if the two criteria mentioned above are fullfilled. It however becomes unreliable, once a woman resumes her menses and or after six months of delivery following which a modern method of family planning is advised.
BREAST MILK AND VITAMIN D
Breast milk is low in vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are recommended for all pregnant and breast-feeding women especially those in the regions where there is little or poor exposure to sunlight. Similalry, babies of mothers in these regions who are being exclusively breastfed are advised to take vitamin D supplements from the age of 6 months if their mothers received vitamin D supplements in pregnancy and from the age of 1 month if their mothers do not receive vitamin D supplements in pregnancy so as to prevent the development of rickets. In Nigeria and most other parts of Africa, due to the constant exposure to adequate sunlight, there is enough synthesis of vitamin D directly from the sunlight and therefore there is no need for vitamin D supplements.
Considering the immense benefits of breast feeding to the mother and the baby, all women should be encouraged to breast feed unless medically contra-indicated for at least six months after delivery. For more information on this, please feel free to CHAT WITH OUR CONSULTANTS.
PREVIOUS ARTICLE: BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING TO THE BABY
Reference and further reading:
1. World Health Organization. Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. 2002. Available at: www.who.int/nut/documents/gs_infant_feeding_text_eng.pdf (Accessed on June 01, 2007).
2. African-American Breastfeeding Alliance, www.aabaonline.com.
3. La Leche League, www.lalecheleague.org.
4. The influence of maternal, fetal and child nutrition on the development of chronic disease in later life; Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), 2011.