Breastfeeding: benefits

(Video uploaded 15/03/2015)


Title: Breastfeeding: benefits

Narrator: Having listened to Debby's experience, you may appreciate the benefits of breastfeeding both for mothers and babies. Breastmilk is the natural food for babies and cannot be fully replaced by formula milk. During pregnancy, the baby receives all nutrients and antibodies from the mother through the placenta. These antibodies will be gradually used up at around 6 months of age. In fact, breastfeeding is a continuum of pregnancy; your baby continues to receive nutrients, antibodies and warmth through breastfeeding after birth. The antibodies are very important for a child before his immunity is mature at around 2 to 3 years of age. Breastmilk is produced according to your baby's needs. Breastmilk is natural and rich in nutrients. It is not only easily absorbed by your baby but also contains a wide variety of substances, such as DHA ,AA and prebiotics which can help the optimal development of your baby's brain, eyes and digestive system. As Debby has just said, breastfed babies are healthier because breastmilk contains antibodies, living immune cells and enzymes which can protect the baby against diseases. Thus, preterm and sick babies need breastmilk even more. Unlike breastmilk, formula milk does not contain antibodies and living immune cells, hence it cannot provide such protection. Although DHA and AA are added to most formula milk to mimic breastmilk, studies show that exclusively breastfed babies score better in IQ tests than formula-fed babies. Moreover, various incidents associated with some formula milk occurred recently, for example, presence of toxic chemicals; contamination with bacteria, or having insufficient nutrients such as iodine. All these can be harmful to babies' health. Breastfeeding is also beneficial to mothers, for example, it helps the uterus return to the usual size more quickly; reduces bleeding after delivery and prevents anaemia; breastfeeding for long periods can also lower the risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding also facilitates post-natal weight loss. As breastfeeding has so many benefits, the longer the babies are breastfed, the greater the health benefits. Thus, the World Health Organization recommends: Babies should be breastfed exclusively in the first 6 months; and continue to have breastmilk with solid food in their diet until 2 years old or above.