How Breastfeeding Benefits Your Baby

Breast milk is the most suitable diet for all babies due to the nutritional and immunological contribution it provides for their health and also produces a strong emotional bond between the mother and the baby.

Breastfeeding should start at birth. The first milk produced by the mother is called colostrum, which is very rich in proteins, minerals, vitamins and antibodies.

Benefits of breastfeeding

  • It is easier to digest.
  • Stimulates growth and gastrointestinal motility.
  • As it continues the antimicrobial activity, so it contains immunological properties that protect babies from infections and allergies.
  • Babies who drink breast milk are less likely to have leukemia and lymphomas.
  • Breastfeeding slightly improves cognitive development in childhood and adolescence.
  • Several studies have indicated that babies raised with breast milk have better visual function compared to babies who were fed formula.
  • It stimulates the facial muscles.
  • It is easily available.

Which conditions are contraindicated for breastfeeding

  • Mothers infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Mothers with herpes lesion in the breast
  • Mothers with chickenpox five days before or two days after delivery
  • Mothers with active tuberculosis
  • Mothers Infected with the H1N1 Influenza Virus
  • Mothers infected with cytomegalovirus virus
  • Mothers who take illicit substances or drugs or is taking part in methadone maintenance programs
  • The baby that is born with a condition called galactosemia, phenylketonuria or other inborn errors of metabolism.

The following conditions are modifiable in relation to breastfeeding

  • Alcohol: it is recommended to mothers who drink alcohol to reduce or discontinue drinking since they get pregnant. Alcohol decreases the amount of human milk produced by the mother and has negative effects on the baby’s motor development. If you are going to breastfeed, it should be done two hours after the ingestion of alcohol.
  • Smoking: as it is associated with many respiratory diseases and Sudden Death Syndrome.
  • Medications: Medications taken by mothers when they are breastfeeding should be reviewed. Always ask your doctor what medicines you should not take during breastfeeding as it is transmitted through breast milk.

Breast milk compared to the formula can provide multiple benefits even after stopping breastfeeding until the first years of life.

-Dr. Denise Núñez is a pediatrician and founder of the Niño de la Caridad Foundation in the Bronx