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You always hear that breastfeeding has many advantages and is the best thing for mother and child. Nevertheless “only about every third infant in Germany is exclusively breastfed at the age of four months”. (Federal Health Gazette)
Why is that? And what exactly are the advantages of breastfeeding?
I got to the bottom of this and may present to you all the advantages and disadvantages for breastfeeding.
What is Breast Milk?
“you might expect your breast milk ingredients to include basic essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as water to keep her hydrated, which it does.1 But breast milk is no ordinary food – it has more value than nutrition alone”Medela
The living components also include stem cells, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, hormones, enzymes, antibodies and much more! Here you will find a clearly explained list of most of the ingredients – Really miracle milk! 🙂
Disadvantages of Breastfeeding
So, now to the advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding. In contrast to all feedback cultures we start with the negative aspects of breastfeeding:
- The breastfeeding start can be painful and unpleasant – oh I know what I’m talking about. 🙁
- You share your own body with another being, and not just when you want to. #Milkbar
- Breastfeeding in public is usually more uncomfortable than giving the bottle in front of others.
- Breastfeeding requires (even more) physical awareness of the mother for herself (good nutrient-rich diet, sufficient sleep, etc.).
- Breastfeeding is pure mummy’s business unless you pump it down, then your daddy can also help. You can also breastfeed full time and pump occasionally, everything is allowed. 😉
- You still have to limit your alcohol consumption a lot. If you don’t breastfeed much, you can still treat yourself to a glass of champagne, beer or wine with “pump and dump” or a break that is long enough, but you need planning.
- The same is true for medication, here many are still taboo.
- Fear of breastfeeding myths (sagging breasts, toxic milk, pampering, bad sleep, eating restrictions, etc.) – even if many of these myths are not true at all.
Phew, I really can’t think of any more, can you?
By the way, whether a woman breast-feeds and for how long depends mainly on her environment, especially on her partner’s opinion. Intresting isn’t it?!
Why Breastfeeding is Practical
Breastmilk has several advantages that make your life at home, at night and on the go easier!
- No getting up at night (if the child still sleeps nearby)
- Due to the prolactin that is released at night, mummy finds her way back to sleep more quickly and remains more relaxed (gynecologists on the net).
- If your child sleeps nearby, then your deep sleep phase is adjusted and the baby wakes you up if you are not sleeping deeply anyway, practical!
- The milk is always at the right temperature, no scalding, and no milkshake.
- Mother’s milk is always there, even if you get stuck in the elevator.
- And you don’t need a big bag for the utensils. No kidding, but I’ve seen friends who had two thermos jugs (for hot and cold water) in their diaper bag, a measuring cup, bottle, and the powder milk to give a perfectly tempered milk on the way. Very praiseworthy but also a lot of stuff to carry. And, I have also seen mothers who always give me “cold” on the way for the sake of simplicity.
- It doesn’t cost any money and you save about 1.500 USD in the first year compared to feeding with baby food. A friend told me that breastfeeding saves you 3,000 to 4,000 EUR over the whole period! When I see that some HA special foods, especially for babies with sensitive digestion, cost 20-30 EUR for 2 liters, I like to believe that. I have to admit that I spent a lot on breastfeeding in the first few months. Just cabbage and quark! 😀
- For breastfeeding, you don’t have to wash or boil any bottles and you don’t have to prepare anything else.
- And, the milk is always ready to hand, in the truest sense of the word! 😉 With us, it was so that there were the early signs of hunger and 5 seconds later the escalation! 😀 No kidding! And, if you have to start preparing the milk first, then bye-bye nerves… 😉
Advantages for the Baby
Let’s get to what you’re doing your baby good for when you breastfeed it!
- Breastmilk contains all the nutrients a baby/child needs to grow and prosper and adapts to the baby’s needs with every meal, time of day and increasing age of the child.
- Breastmilk helps your baby’s brain develop and even increases IQ, according to Brown University in Providence.
- Bottle children also show an altered intestinal flora and more insulin in the body.
- Breastfed babies have to be treated much less frequently for gastrointestinal infections, in fact, 72% less frequently and “because especially rotavirus infections are milder in them” (Children understand Herbert Renz-Polster).
- “The longer a child is breastfed, the greater the protection against obesity” (Ärzteblatt).
- Breastmilk has a decongestant and anti-inflammatory effect – in fact, it is recommended to treat all problems with breast milk. Whether it’s on the spot, the sore bottom, in the bathwater or even into the nose!
- And it also helps with mean teething, not only relieving pain but also cares for them if the little ones do not eat so well because of it.
- “Breastfeeding prevents allergies if you exclusively breastfeed for at least four months.” (gynaecologists on the net), although it must be said that there are now also studies that refute this.
- Mother’s milk helps the baby’s immune system through the mother’s antibodies: “The mother passes on antibodies from previous diseases (measles, chickenpox, etc.) as well as from current infections (e.g. colds). In this way, the child is well protected against infections.” (gynecologists on the net) – that means it gets every time a small “vaccination” – only without the prick, hehe.
- “The palate and jaw development is positively influenced, later malpositions are smaller. Head and neck muscles are strengthened”. (Gynaecologists on the Net)
- Breastfeeding prevents tooth misalignments by 68% (European Institute for Breastfeeding and Lactation).
- “Infants can largely regulate their own food intake during breastfeeding. This can have a positive effect on later eating behavior and the risk of overweight.” (Federal Health Gazette)
- Breastmilk changes the immune system and the intestinal flora positively in the long term. The intestines of breastfed children not only contain a greater variety of bacteria, but they also activate more human genes that are involved in the defense against pathogens. Chapkin concludes that breastfeeding is an important stimulant for the development of the immune system, a large part of which is located in the intestine.” (medical journal)
The risk of contracting the following diseases decreases:
- Respiratory infections
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Fungal diseases
- Colds and flu
- Leukemia and Lymphoma
- “The risk of sudden infant death is also greatly reduced by breastfeeding.”
- And should your baby ever catch it, that breastfed children recover from the disease faster than babies with powdered milk, because the ingredients adapt.
- Interestingly, it is said to be a myth that babies sleep better with bottled food. They probably wake up just as often, but do not find their way back to sleep as quickly as breastfed babies. They are given a small night drink with their mother’s milk, which takes them straight back to their dreamland. Does that work for you? I would be interested!
- During breastfeeding the hormone oxytocin is released, also known as the cuddle hormone. Among other things, this hormone reduces stress and breastfed children are less conspicuously aggressive and are less frequently diagnosed with ADD.
- In fact, studies show that breastfed children are more independent: “Studies that compared the independence of long-breastfed children from traditional societies with the social competence and independence of Western children who were breastfed only briefly or not at all showed that children from traditional societies are more independent. (Understanding children, Herbert Renz-Polster)
- Breastfed children get on average more physical closeness and touch.
- The chemically produced milk is probably related to later obesity and type 2 diabetes: “The faster growth due to the high protein content in industrial baby food represents a risk factor for overweight and obesity” (Berthold Koletzko).
- Even the EU Parliament opposes the “glorification” of pre-nutrition.
- And the Federal Health Gazette also says: “However, the promotion of breastfeeding is regularly undermined by inappropriate advertising for breast milk substitutes”.
Advantages for the Mother
Now comes a real goodie, because breastfeeding is not only the best food for your baby, but breastfeeding also has lots of benefits for YOU! Yeah!
- The breastfeeding hormones help the uterus to shrink more quickly, because “the hormone oxytocin not only influences the breastfeeding process but also triggers contractions of the uterus (breastfeeding pains). The associated pressure on the vessels leads to hemostasis, rejection of wound secretions from the uterus and their regression. At the same time, anemia and iron deficiency are prevented.” (Gynaecologists on the Net) By the way, if you are wondering whether breastfeeding contractions are comparable to labor pains, my experience is this: No! At most, afterpains felt to me as if you had your days. 🙂
- Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk for breast and ovarian cancer, even more, the more often you breastfeed (i.e. the more children you have). Well, now the big family?! 😉
The risk of contracting one of the following diseases decreases for YOU:
- “The reduction of metabolic syndrome, the incidence of type II diabetes, and coronary heart disease are reflected in several studies.” (Federal Health Gazette)
- “Young women breastfeeding their babies may develop atherosclerosis less frequently later in life” (Ärzteblatt)
- “A Swedish study has shown that women who breastfeed for at least one year have a lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis after menopause.” (Gynaecologists on the Net)
- There is even a Korean study which states that comparatively, long breastfeeding reduces the risk of cataracts in old age.
- “Mothers who breastfeed their children are less likely to develop endometriosis later.” (British medical journal)
- The risk for the mother of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) is halved! And for women who already have MS, the number of relapses during breastfeeding is reduced (Ärzteblatt).
- Breastfeeding lowers blood pressure, pulse and cortisol (stress hormone) release.
- Probably because of this, the risk of having a heart attack or stroke decreases by 8-18%, even depending on the duration of breastfeeding (medical journal).
When I read this I think that breastfeeding mothers should get a bonus from health insurance. 😉
- Breastfeeding can even boost your IQ, yeah!
- When you breastfeed, the cuddly hormone oxytocin is released, which you probably already know from the birth preparation course. This will make you feel better when breastfeeding.
- That’s why the risk of postnatal depression (even significantly) and stress levels decreases – The downside is that women who stop breastfeeding due to physical discomfort usually suffer even more.
- The release of oxytocin also increases bonding with your child.
- Breastfeeding mothers are more cheerful in their facial expressions, at least according to this study.
- Ovulation does not occur with frequent breastfeeding, I personally call that an advantage. 😉
- Breastfeeding helps to prevent chronic pain after a sectio (Ärzteblatt).
- In fact, the whole thing can be so high that worldwide 20,000 premature deaths (breast cancer, for example) can be avoided by breastfeeding every year. Breastfeeding thus saves lives. 🙂
- So, if you are not yet convinced of breastfeeding, here it comes!
Breastfeeding mothers also display prolonged and higher quality sleep patterns than those who feed their infants formula. Specifically, there is research to show that at 3 months postpartum, breastfeeding was associated with an increase of about 45 minutes in sleep and reduced sleep disturbancehttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00103-018-2769-0
- So, Mothers who breastfeed have better quality sleep and, measured 3 months after birth, 45 minutes longer sleep with fewer disturbances. Personally, I can confirm this for us, sleep was almost no issue for us. *Tobble up*
- Surprisingly, there are even studies using MRIs to prove that mothers of children who have been fully breastfed activate other brain areas when the crying children sound.
- In fact, studies go so far as to say that breastfeeding mothers are happier, less stressed and more sensitive to their children “which is likely to positively influence their maternal behaviors”.
- So girls, whoever is not yet on board when it comes to sleep, now gets the Deal-Closer: Breastfeeding consumes calories and makes you slimmer in the long run! You consume about 500 calories a day, which is as much as an hour’s cycling. Well, then I prefer to chill and breastfeed. 😀 (medical journal)
Advantages for Family & Society
- Breastfeeding also calms and comforts other complaints than hunger, it is THE all-purpose weapon for us and thus also protects the nerves of other family members.
- Let’s be honest: breastfeeding is sustainable! No packaging, no logistics, no marketing, and no garbage… A study has extrapolated that in the USA 4,000 liters of water are needed per 1 liter of form milk (production, transport, waste, cleaning, etc.) (European Institute for Breastfeeding and Lactation).
- “Promotion of breastfeeding supports the health of children and mothers and lowers costs for the health system.” Bäm.
- Germany launched the “Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly” (BBF) project in 2017 and “is being implemented at the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) by Netzwerk Gesund ins Leben and the National Breastfeeding Commission at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) together with the Yale School of Public Health. It examines the framework conditions for breastfeeding and thus makes a valuable contribution to promoting the health of mother and child and to breastfeeding protection in Germany”. (Bundesgesundheitsblatt) Besides all these important sounding institutions, YOU can be a part of it!
You see, I am completely convinced of breastfeeding and that it is the best start you can give your child. But I also know that it is not always possible to breastfeed your child for various reasons. Giving your child baby food is not bad! As the saying goes: “Breastfeeding is love – bottles also give! We all want only the best for our children, with the means we have. #MamaPower
So breastfeeding yes or no?
Do you have any other advantages or disadvantages?
Your Maisie 💕