It is believed that there is nothing healthier, more nutritious, and tastier for a baby than a mother’s milk. Everyone around is campaigning exclusively for natural childbirth, breastfeeding for up to 3 years, and the use of nutrition on demand.
This popularization is not always correct. There are many pitfalls, hidden negative consequences, and contraindications. Breastfeeding is beneficial under ideal conditions, but there are other scenarios. Let’s see if everything is so unambiguous in this matter.
Is breastfeeding mandatory?
Natural birth and breastfeeding is undoubtedly great solution, but we have come a long way in progress. It cannot be said that without breast milk, the child will feel bad and he will grow up somehow different. Is mother’s milk essential? No, there are many alternatives in the form of quality-adapted infant formulas.
There is too much fuss around breastfeeding and its importance is greatly exaggerated. Do not take the refusal of breastfeeding as the worst tragedy. You do not deprive a baby of life or health if you do not want or cannot feed him with your milk.
The inflated importance of public opinion is a frequent stimulus for the development of depression. Women after childbirth are at risk and they must decide for themselves whether to breastfeed.
Pros of breastfeeding for a baby
The positive impact of breastfeeding on the mother and the child can be distinguished. However, the pros will be about the same as the cons. So weigh your decision against individual priorities. Consider the main advantages of breastfeeding for a child:
Optimal composition – Mother’s milk includes everything necessary for the development, growth, and immune protection of the baby. The baby does not require supplementary feeding until 6 months of age with a good milk flow. Breast milk can cover all the energy costs and nutritional needs of the baby.
Easy digestibility – Breast milk is the most easily absorbed food for a newborn baby. It appears after colostrum, which prepares the child’s gastrointestinal tract for the digestion of mature milk. The baby tolerates new food well because it is so laid down by nature.
The amount of milk is determined by the needs of the child – A newborn child actively improves the mother’s lactation during the first month. He stimulates the production of such an amount of milk, which is necessary for him. This adaptation helps to satisfy hunger and gives the right amount of nutrition to the child.
Helps the formation of intestinal microflora – Breast milk supplies the intestines with beneficial bacteria. This forms the natural microflora and the ability to get rid of harmful bacteria, viruses, and excess gases.
Passive immunity – The baby receives antibodies from the mother along with milk for the first three months of feeding. This helps the child increase the chances of survival and maintain their health.
Growth factors – Milk contains everything necessary for the proper maturation of the nervous, digestive, immune, and other systems of the body. These growth factors are closest in compatibility with the child.
The emotional connection between mother and child – Breastfeeding is not only nutrition but also communication. Body-to-body contact is recognized as an indispensable way to soothe a baby. It helps to stabilize the emotional background and suppress anxiety and stress. Breastfeeding strengthens maternal feelings in a woman.
Composition and features of breast milk
Breast milk is a specific fluid that is produced by a woman’s mammary glands. Milk changes its composition after childbirth, gradually moving from colostrum to mature milk. It tends to change its quality even during one feeding: first comes the foremilk, then the hindmilk.
Mother’s milk is optimal in composition for the needs of an infant. The ratio of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins fully satisfies the nutritional needs of the baby’s body.
Most of the composition is water. It occupies 87%. Therefore, an infant does not need to drink water before the introduction of complementary foods. Lactose is 6.8%. Fats – 3.9%. Protein – 1%. Vitamins and trace elements – a little less than 1%.
Breast milk also contains immune cells (macrophages, T-lymphocytes, and B-lymphocytes). The composition of milk includes secretory immunoglobulin that protects the mucous membranes of the child. Important components of milk are enzymes: lipase, amylase, and protease.
Cons of breastfeeding
It cannot be said unequivocally that breastfeeding has only pluses. We have selected the most popular cons of this process after studying many forums, studies, and prioritized opinions. Let’s consider them in more detail:
Pain – The first days of breastfeeding are very painful. Some women compare it to being skinned for a living. The baby clamps the nipple very tightly with his jaws and creates pressure with vacuum movements. This is very uncomfortable. Such pain can last up to 7-10 days. Many young mothers cry a lot, get nervous, and cannot stand these sensations. Often there is excessive dryness of the nipples, wounds, irritations, and cracks. You have to use creams or even stop feeding.
Addiction – The breastfeeding mother becomes the “slave” of the child. She should always be there and give the baby a breast on every demand. This causes a negative psychological reaction in many women. They begin to feel that they do not belong to themselves. Their whole life revolves around the child.
Anxiety for the satiety of the child – Inexperienced mothers is most worried about whether the baby eats enough. They do not understand how much breast milk the child ate. There remains increased anxiety, concern, and instability.
The risk of developing lactostasis – Milk stasis can appear for various reasons. There are pains in the breast, seals, and fever. The child begins to get angry because the milk flows unevenly and in a thin stream.
Forced pumping – Not all mothers can spend all day with their babies. Sometimes it becomes necessary to leave for more than three hours or even for the whole day. A woman has to pump her milk. The pumping process is very rough and unnatural. It has a bad effect on the condition of the milk ducts.
Constant breast leaks – Women suffer from milk leaks for the first couple of months. It is produced in excess. The chest signals its fullness with a pulsation approximately every 2 hours. It hardens and milk flows out of the nipples. Requires wearing special bra inserts. It is not comfortable and causes a lot of inconveniences.
Dieting – Many doctors in Europe and America do not consider it necessary to adhere to a strict diet for breastfeeding. The fact of impact of the food that the mother consumes is confirmed. This can be seen from the diathesis that appears if you eat chocolate or other sweets. A more serious allergy is likely to occur if allergens (strawberries, citrus fruits, redfish) are not avoided.
Conflicts in society – Progressive society and individuals are comfortable with feeding in public places. Especially if they had or have small children. Breastfeeding mothers should not lock themselves in the room with the baby and not go out until they have finished breastfeeding.
Sometimes you have to feed in the park, on the playground, in a cafe or supermarket. The child will not wait and it is irrational to run home. Feeding rooms are not evenly distributed throughout the city. There are conflicts with those who disagree and protest against such exposure and process.
Change in the shapes – Breastfeeding causes stretch marks, breast asymmetry, stoop, double chin, breast emptying, and sagging. It does not necessarily have to happen to you. Breasts in some women almost do not change. But you need to be prepared for such a negative result.
Fatigue and drowsiness – There is no possibility to delegate night feedings. The child requires only the breast and only the mother. The woman does not get enough sleep and becomes chronically tired and constantly sleepy. Decreased brain activity and lowered mood. The lack of serotonin is bad for the psychological health of the mother.
Decreased libido – Many breastfeeding mothers complain that they no longer perceive their bodies the way they used to. This reduces their sexual energy. There are problems in their personal life. Many couples break up relationships in the first six months after giving birth. High probability of developing frigidity.
Attachment of the child to the mother – Experts note that children who are breastfed are more attached to their mother. They are socially less active, domestic, and shy. It is difficult for them to adapt to the new team.
Difficulties in weaning – Probably the worst thing breastfeeding mothers fear is the process of weaning. It can be too heavy, stressful, and long. The child will arrange protests and tantrums if the process is delayed. This will affect all family members.
The benefits of breastfeeding for the mother
Breastfeeding is a well-thought-out way by nature to improve the health of not only the child but also the mother. The process helps in solving many issues and problems that arise after childbirth. Here are some examples of the main advantages for breastfeeding mothers:
The contraction of the uterus is stimulated – The uterus secretes blood for some time after childbirth. The body produces oxytocin to better cleanse the uterus. Its amount increases significantly if a woman is breastfeeding. This helps to reduce the duration of bleeding and increase the frequency of uterine contractions.
Convenience – It is difficult for a tired mother to deal with the constant sterilization of dishes and the preparation of the mixture. You have to feed the baby often, and the milk in the breast is always sterile, warm, and ready-made food. You can offer your baby food at any time and in any place.
Saving the figure – Energy expenditure during breastfeeding is doubled. A woman does not have to worry about her figure during the feeding period. Additional calorie consumption keeps the figure normal and allows you to eat a lot and nutritiously.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle – Breastfeeding helps a woman adhere to proper nutrition, regimen, and lifestyle as much as possible. You cannot eat harmful and allergenic food. Smoking, alcohol, and most drugs are prohibited.
Prevention of breast diseases – It has been scientifically proven that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer by 20-30%. This process heals and helps stimulate blood flow. Women suffer less from mastopathy and other associated breast problems.
Prevention of other diseases – Women are less at risk of developing uterine and fallopian tube cancer due to breastfeeding. Minimizes the likelihood of diabetes and improves the condition of hypertension.
Financial benefit – The birth of a baby is always a very expensive pleasure. If it is possible to breastfeed, then this reduces waste on the mixture, which costs a lot of money. Even a low-income family can provide nutrition for a baby.
The best sedative – Breastfeeding soothes not only the baby but also the mother. Nursing mothers are more balanced, calm, and cheerful according to research. They are less susceptible to developing depression and anxiety disorders. Their emotional background is more stable.
Attachment to the child – Many women after a C- section complain about the lack of maternal feelings or attachment to the baby. This can also happen after natural childbirth. Attachment to the breast and further feeding corrects the situation. Communication is being established and maternal feelings are aggravated.