What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding By Month?
I swear by breastfeeding, and as much as possible, I try to be an advocate for new and expectant mothers.
However, I’d like to emphasize that though this is my advocacy, I have long made it a point to avoid judging the choices of other parents.
Whether you opted for formula-feeding and why – those are none of my business. So this article won’t be about starting an argument between mothers.
Instead, I’d only be tackling the benefits of breastfeeding by month and other topics related to it – usual problems encountered, prepping, pumping, etc.
- Benefits Of Breastfeeding By Month
- 1. First few days of life, you will produce 'colostrum.'
- 2. 4-6 Weeks
- 3. 3-4 Months
- 4. Six months: Ah yes, one of the most exciting stages of infancy.
- 5. Nine Months
- 6. One year: If you’ve reached this stage, congratulations!
- 7. Beyond one year: Even if you’re just considering extended breastfeeding, I say props to you!
- Breast Is Best
Benefits Of Breastfeeding By Month
The World Health Organization highly encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of life. And they further recommended continuing to do so, along with complementary feeding, until two years old or beyond.
That’s the ideal scenario. But then again, this is easier said than done for a lot of moms. We all have our reasons so let’s leave it at that.
Aside from actively promoting breastfeeding, the WHO also states that this is the single most effective way to ensure good health for the child. Now let’s go to some specific perks for every age:
1. First few days of life, you will produce 'colostrum.'
Often referred to as your baby’s first meal or vaccine, its consistency is thick and sticky, and the color ranges from yellow to orange.
Aside from protecting newborns with its antibody and immunoglobulin content, it also helps the infant pass meconium or his early stools because of its laxative properties.
It may be high in carbohydrates and protein, and low in fat but it’s easy to digest. Take note that what it lacks in quantity; it makes up for in quality. Therefore, the total volume of colostrum may be small, but it’s high in nutrition, ideal for your little one.
The large leukocyte concentration protects your baby from bacteria and viruses. Regarding digestion, colostrum coats the intestinal tract to serve as a barrier against foreign substances or food which the mother has eaten.
Although your breasts won’t immediately feel full at this point, no need to worry because your body can produce enough milk for your baby’s nutritional needs.
2. 4-6 Weeks
After the colostrum, the mother’s body will start producing transitional milk which is thinner in consistency but higher in volume.
As of this time, it contains protective antibodies and therefore, your baby is less likely to acquire pneumonia, bronchitis, and meningitis. They also have fewer chances of suffering from respiratory and digestive problems and even SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.
For the part of the mother, breastfeeding may be tiresome (you have to get up and feed the baby every few hours), but it can help you recover faster from childbirth. It will also hasten your losing of the baby weight and will encourage mobility.
And because each time you nurse your body produces prolactin and oxytocin, it can help you bond deeper with your little one and lessen your anxiety at the same time. You are also adding protection against food allergy and chest infections to your child.
3. 3-4 Months
Ear infections are fairly common at this age. Often caused by bacteria or virus, fluid could build up behind the eardrum. If the baby is still exclusively breastfed, it minimizes the risk of infected ears, and he will receive 535 calories, 37g of fat, and 6.8g of protein on a daily basis from the breastmilk.
Also, you may notice that when changing his diaper, his stools will have fewer odors. I did mention respiratory problems earlier; breastfeeding reduces the risk of asthma by 40% for those with familial history and 27% for those who don’t.
And if you noticed that your infant is now sleeping soundly all through the night, your observation is correct. It’s because of the tryptophan content in the milk which functions as mood regulator and is also responsible for balancing some hormonal levels.
For the mother, nursing could burn as much as 500 calories per day thus helping you shed the extra weight faster.
4. Six months: Ah yes, one of the most exciting stages of infancy.
At this age, your baby can now start eating solid foods and drink water. I remember how anxious I was because I didn’t know how to create a balanced meal plan for him. Should I go for pureed vegetables?
Should I prepare steamed carrots and celery?
Should I juice the fruits? If you’re still breastfeeding at this time, there are several benefits your child can reap both long and short term.
Remember, you are starting to introduce solids and in some cases, babies can have allergic reactions to raw fruits. Breast milk decreases that risk including some childhood cancers.
But while that seems to be a lot of perks, nursing your child can also supplement his vaccinations thus making them more efficient. You will also encounter fewer problems with feeding because breastfed children do not tend to be picky eaters.
5. Nine Months
Several things are already happening now, they’re getting more playful and active, they already have their favorite toys, and may start to crawl and stand.
All these developments make your milk more important – because it can aid in their brain and body development.
They may now be eating nutritious foods but take note that breastmilk is still essential especially since they’re beginning to explore more – from picking up to putting not-so-clean stuff into their mouths.
Continue nursing him and you’ll be getting advantages such as higher IQ – yes, breastfeeding promotes intelligence too. It makes them smarter and more alert.
6. One year: If you’ve reached this stage, congratulations!
Pat yourself on the back because contrary to what others may think, this is a significant achievement. Some mothers even go so far as quit their jobs just to ensure they can breastfeed their little ones up to this point.
When they say, ‘Breast is best.’ they are right. Even when your kid has already celebrated his 1st birthday, he is still benefitting from your milk.
The truth is, your breastmilk can help in boosting his immune system and protecting him from possible infections.
If they’re sick, nursing is the single most effective way of comforting them while keeping them hydrated.
And although they’re now consuming regular solid foods, your milk can still provide them calories, vital nutrients, vitamins, growth hormones and enzymes necessary to protect him and keep him healthy.
7. Beyond one year: Even if you’re just considering extended breastfeeding, I say props to you!
What most people don’t seem to understand is that it entails a lot of sacrifices for the mother to get to this stage. There can be many hurdles along the way – minimal milk supply, stress, lack of emotional support, lifestyle changes, etc.
But you’ve braved it all. Nevertheless, all your dedication to keeping on nursing your child will pay off. How? Not just childhood diseases but your toddler is less likely to suffer from adult illnesses such as cardiac problems and diabetes.
Because your milk contains ‘smart fats’, this could affect your little one’s brain development thus making them smarter or more intellectual. They will also get good dental health, improved vision, and stronger immune system.
Aside from convenience on your part, it also lessens the risk of breast cancer.
Breast Is Best
Making milk and feeding your child from your body should be considered superpowers. It takes a lot to breastfeed your baby exclusively and more so if you’re doing extended breastfeeding.
I hope you learned a lot from this post and kudos to you for giving your bundle of joy only the best. Rest assured, you and your little one will eventually reap the benefits. Have any questions or something to add?
Share with us in the comments!