Breastfeeding is considered to be medically beneficial for both the mother and the child. Pediatricians and gynecologists strongly recommend mothers to breastfeed their infants, especially for the first six months of the baby’s life.

Advantages Of Breastfeeding

Breast milk is laden with the necessary nutrients and antibodies that strengthen the infant’s immune system. Breastfeeding the infant within an hour of birth significantly reduces the chances of the infant contracting infections. Babies who are breastfed are able to fight off diarrhea and other gastrointestinal diseases much more easily compared to the ones who are not. This also reduces the risk of infant mortality in breastfed babies. Not only is breast milk better suited to the baby’s nutritional needs, it is also easier for the baby to digest compared to infant formula. Moreover, the practice of breastfeeding holds sentimental significance as well. The skin- and eye-contact during breastfeeding helps the mother to form a more intimate bond with the baby.

This emotional fulfillment is not the only benefit to the mother. Breastfeeding reduces the chances of breast and ovarian cancer in women. It also makes the mother less susceptible to osteoporosis: a disease that women usually develop after menopause. Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their young for the first six months are less likely to get pregnant during that time period. This is a natural birth-control process termed as Lactation Amenorrhea Technique (LAT). It is nature’s way of allowing for sufficient gaps between pregnancies.

A Few Complications

In spite of all these benefits, a large number of mothers do not breastfeed their infants. One of the major causes behind this aversion is the physical discomfort associated with breastfeeding. Some women tend to face a number of problems like breast soreness, blocked milk ducts, and mastitis that can make breastfeeding difficult or even painful. Other women find it difficult to be present every time their baby requires to be fed during the day. Therefore, they resort to infant formulas that can be fed to the baby even in their absence. Some women are medically constrained by communicable diseases like HIV, or diseases that require prescription drugs that are potentially harmful to the infant.

With all these pros and cons, breastfeeding, at the end of the day, is a personal choice of the mother. The mother should be allowed to consider her health and comfort before making her choice, and her judgment should be duly respected.