Does breast milk take care of all my infant’s nutritional needs?
Motherhood brings with it many beautiful new experiences along with a hint of anxiety. Post birth, new mothers start worrying whether breast milk is enough to meet the nutritional needs of the baby.
Now, you must already know how crucial balanced nutrition is, to promote the normal growth and development of a child. So, it is natural to wonder if only breast milk will be adequate for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. This is why you need to know what are the nutritional benefits of breast milk and how it suffices to meet the nutritional needs of a baby.
- Only colostrum: The initial thin yellowish breast secretion, which is fed to the baby for the first five days, offers several benefits. It is known to help build the baby’s immune system, prevent jaundice attacks and act as a laxative to promote the easy release of the baby’s first stools. Its digestibility and nutritional composition are perfectly suited for a newborn. Your baby is going to rely only on colostrum for the first five days of his or her life. You might wonder how such small secretions will be sufficient for your little one’s diet. No worries though, as nothing else can satisfy your baby’s requirements better during this phase!
- Perfect protein: Human breast milk is made of two types of protein, called whey and casein. The whey to casein ratio is 60:40, apt for the baby’s digestion. Remember that a baby’s digestive system is still developing and requires food that is easy to digest. And whey is a protein that can be digested easily. So, its higher proportion in breast milk makes it easy on the tiny one’s tummy.
- Fat is fit: Your baby’s caloric needs are also fulfilled by the fat present in breast milk. Even the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K provided by the mother’s milk rely on fats being absorbed and stored by the body. Breast milk is also a treasure-trove of special long-chain fatty acids that are essential for the development of the baby’s eyes, brain, and spinal cord.
- Catching up with the carbs: Lactose is that one essential carbohydrate that makes up for forty percent of the dietary calories that a breastfed child needs. Like fat, carbohydrates also promote the absorption of certain nutrients in the body, such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Additionally, lactose helps create an environment favourable for the multiplication of tiny, friendly bacteria in the stomach and restricts the growth of harmful ones.
- The vitamin variety: Mother’s milk is a storehouse of all the vital vitamins the human body requires. Each of these performs a range of functions in the body, and is present in the quantity that the baby’s body requires during those first 6 months. Nevertheless, the mother’s diet decides the vitamin composition of the milk she produces, and hence she needs to consciously include all vitamins sufficiently in her regular diet. This is why mothers may also be advised to consume supplements in case the natural vitamin intake has been low.
And that is not all! Here are more advantages to breastfeeding that you must know.
- Babies who are breastfed are at a reduced risk of developing allergies, eczema, respiratory diseases, Crohn’s Disease, colitis, type 1 diabetes, speech, and orthopaedic issues and cavities.
- Similarly, as teenagers and adults, they are less likely to develop heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis as well as breast cancer.
First-hand benefits of breastfeeding are many. Breast milk has:
- The ideal viscosity to match your baby’s swallowing reflex
- The most suitable composition to suit your baby’s digestive ability
- The apt nutrient composition to suit the baby’s absorption and utilization capacity
- The perfect temperature to suit your baby’s body temperature
- The right antibodies to help build your baby’s immunity
- The perfect quantity of breast milk is produced every time your baby gets hungry
Yes! The last point answers a major doubt that you might have! Breastfeeding is not just important because it satisfies your child’s nutritional needs, but the amount of breast milk produced is exactly as per your baby’s desire. Moreover, it is produced just when it’s time to feed!
Remember that only certain medical situations of the mother where breast milk is either insufficiently produced (such as a C-section, cancer, etc.) or health conditions of the child (such as a cleft lip or palate, jaundice, and so on) will make supplementary food a necessity alongside breast milk.