Breastfeeding: importance for mother and child

Breastfeeding of the infant by the mother is becoming (again) increasingly popular. This is not surprising, as it offers numerous benefits for mother and child.

Benefits for the mother

  • The reduction of the body weight to the initial weight succeeds most gently by the high additional energy consumption in the milk production.
  • Nevertheless, lactation should never be used as an "emaciation cure". After all, the newborn needs large amounts of calories and nutrients to develop. A slow and even weight reduction results almost by itself.

Meaning for the child

Breast milk contains nutrients of high quality, best availability and in a nearly optimal composition. Even today, it is still far from being able to produce an equal artificial replacement that fulfills similar functions. In addition, the different content of ingredients in the initial milk (colostrum), the transitional milk and the mature milk meet the changing needs of the infant.

In addition to carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, other vital substances are also provided. Enzymes that accommodate the immature digestive system of the newborn are also present, as are hormones, growth factors, and immunological components. The latter consist of antibodies (IgA) and white blood cells (leukocytes).

For your child this results in the following advantages:

  • Supply of proteins from an optimal composition.
  • Supply of vital substances (vitamins and minerals) in a well-usable form (high availability).
  • Efficient digestion and uptake of the substances thanks to the supplied enzymes.
  • Protection against diseases thanks to numerous antibodies and cells.
  • Preservation of food allergies later in life.

Healthy prosperity

The nutrients and antibodies in breast milk have a positive effect on the child's development. Many diseases are less common in breastfed children or are more harmless, such as gastrointestinal infections, otitis media and upper respiratory tract diseases. Also, allergic diseases are attenuated in breastfed children or become late. The sucking on the chest promotes the formation of the jaw musculature much more intensively than the sucking on the bottle. Therefore, breastfed children are less likely to suffer from malocclusions.

The suggestion to fully breastfeed in the first six months of life has the following reasoning: it is only then that the child's immune system and metabolism have reached the point where contact with new foods can be well processed. In Germany, it is hardly known that since April 2006 the WHO has recommended corrected growth curves for children who are breastfed. This should take place during the pediatrician examinations. It can already be assumed that schoolchildren are up to 25% less overweight when breastfed.

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