By Chioma Obinna
As a mother do you still enjoy the act of breastfeeding? Nothing can beat that feeling that you breast fed your own baby. From experience, breast feeding promotes bonding between you and your baby.
While breast feeding your baby, you tend to hold the baby and there is no more comforting feeling for an infant of any age than being held close and cuddled while being breastfed. Many premature babies are more likely to die if they are not held or stroked.
Breast milk has been established as a unique nutritional source that cannot adequately be replaced by any other food.
Alas, it is like so many Nigerian mothers seem to have forgotten the real essence of breast feeding which is as old as the existence of man himself.
Going by recent findings, exclusive breast feeding rate in Nigeria has fallen as to as low as 15 percent.
Many mothers are said to have chosen to keep their breast for their man than their baby who needs it for survival. Some claimed that breast feeding their babies will affect the shape of their breasts and may no longer be attractive to their man. Studies also show that breast feeding has nothing to do with the breast sagging. It has also been proven that whether a woman breast feeds or not, whether a woman gets pregnant or not, a time shall come in the woman’s life when her breasts will become slack due to ageing.
Between the baby and father, who actually needs this breast? There are hard facts that the man only use the breast as an object of romance, unlike the baby who utilises the breast for survival.
Evidence abounds that breast milk itself is the gold in infant nutrition for a newborn as it possesses anti-infective properties that help to protect infants against diseases. Breastfeeding has been declared an unequaled way of providing ideal food for the health, growth and the development of infants as well as been a unique biological and emotional basis for the health of both mother and child.
Studies have shown that women who were formula-fed as infants have higher rates of breast cancer as adults.
For both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, women who were breastfed as children, even if only for a short time, had a 25 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than women.
Again, not breast feeding increases risk of cancer in women. But if all women who do not breastfeed or who breastfeed for less than three months were to do so for 4 to 12 months, breast cancer among parous premenopausal women could be reduced by 11 percent, judging from current rates. This reduction would be even greater among women who first lactate at an early age.
Studies indicate that breastfeeding helps improve mothers’ health, as well as their children’s.
A woman grows both physically and emotionally from the relationship she forms with her baby. Just as a woman’s breast milk is designed specifically to nourish the body of an infant, the production and delivery of this milk aids her own health.
For example, breastfeeding helps a woman to lose weight after birth. It releases a hormone (oxytocin) that causes the uterus to return to its normal size more quickly.
When a woman gives birth and proceeds to nurse her baby, she protects herself from pregnancy again too soon, a form of birth control found to be 98 percent. Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of osteoporosis in later years.
Diabetic women improve their health by breastfeeding. Women who lactate for two or more years reduce chances of developing breast cancer by 24 percent.