Breastfeeding


 

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Advantages       

      There are several benefits of breastfeeding. One of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding is the bond a mother and her infant may develop during feeding time. However, breast milk provides more than a strong relationship, it also provides the infant with antibodies, which help fight against infections and other harmful conditions. Antibodies help protect the baby from ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and meningitis (an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord). It also strengthens the immune system, which helps fight any possible bacteria and viruses during infancy. Antibodies have been known to protect premature babies, as well some infants, from allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

      The second benefit of breastfeeding is the nutrition and ease of digestion. Breast milk contains lactose, protein and fat, which are all easily digested by an infant's immature digestive system, and it also contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy baby. The third benefit is that breast milk is free and convenient. This means that mothers do not have to spend the money they do not have, and because antibodies help fight against certain infections, this will also means less doctor visits and less money spent on medications. Also, breast feeding can be done without bottles, there is no need to go shopping for formula, and the temperature of breast milk is perfect, so no adjustments to the temperature is needed. Finally, the fourth benefit is that babies who have been breastfed have a higher IQ. "Recent studies suggest that children who were exclusively breastfed for 6 months have IQs 5 to 10 points higher than children who were formula fed" (Homeier, B. P., 2005). 

Challenges    

      As there are several benefits, there are also many challenges, which the mother may experience as well. Breastfeeding requires a lot of patience and devotion in establishing a healthy routine for both the mother and child. One complaint heard from parents is that breastfeeding can cause some uncomfortness and pain; however, breastfeeding should not be painful. During the first week or two, a mother may experience latch-on pain when first introducing breast milk to the infant. Pain will usually last less than a minute, but if it continues then the mother should seek help or advice from her doctor. Another challenge is the amount of commitment a mother needs to contribute in order to keep up with the time and frequency of breastfeeding. During the first month, an infant will need to be fed every 2 or 3 hours, especially because breast milk is more easily and quickly digested than formula. Finally, it is important to look at what a mother is eating and drinking during breastfeeding. For example, when caffeine is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and a portion of it gets in the breast milk. This could make the child more irritable, agitated and sleepless. Therefore, a mother needs to make sure she is making healthier decisions in what she consumes, because the child can be affected.