Monday, November 2, 2009

In Giving We Receive – The Wonders of Breastfeeding

A few days before my son turned one year old (which was a couple of weeks ago), I reviewed my breastfeeding guide book. I have been breastfeeding him since birth and I was happy to have fulfilled my goal of breastfeeding him for one year. I decided to read the guide book again to help me decide if I would continue breastfeeding him until he is two years old or if I would stop when he turns one.

My decision to read it again proved to be very enlightening. I was reminded of the many benefits of breastfeeding not only to my son but also to me. Let me share with you some of the benefits listed in the guide book that moved me to press on.

Benefits for babies:
1. Breastfed babies are more intelligent.
2. Babies are less likely to develop diarrhea, pneumonia, ear infections and even childhood obesity.
3. Breast milk is full of antibodies that prevent diseases.
4. Creates a strong bond between mother and baby.

Benefits for mothers:
1. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of being overweight among breastfeeding mothers. Each month of breastfeeding brought an average reduction 0.44 kg in weight. Therefore, longer breastfeeding can contribute to a reduction in weight after delivery.
2. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of breast cancer in mothers. The innate immune system in breast milk is complex and provides protection for maternal breast tissue and the digestive tract of newborns.
3. Not breastfeeding has been associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer. Women who breastfed longer and breastfed more children had lower risk of ovarian cancer.
4. Women with many children and long total period of breastfeeding have similar or higher bone mineral density and similar or lower fracture risk than their peers who have not given birth and breastfed.
5. Breastfeeding for more than 12 months reduces women’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The shorter the length of breastfeeding, the higher the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
6. Delays the return of menstrual periods and helps space pregnancies.
7. Saves the family thousands of pesos.

These are just some of the benefits I have read about breastfeeding. I’ve read so much more from other books, magazines and articles. And I have experienced many of these benefits first hand in the past 12 months. My baby has been healthy with occasional cold and cough. He has not experienced having diarrhea. He is very intelligent and advance even in motor development. We are also able to save a lot of money since formula milk is quite expensive. Although, my baby is also drinking formula milk twice a day as a supplement, he drinks milk mainly from me. I also feel a strong bond between me and my son. He usually prefers to be with me than anybody else even though he’s familiar with other faces.

It’s amazing also that as I read the guide book, I realized that mothers receive so much in giving to their babies. At first, I thought the benefits are mainly for the child and that it’s like a sacrifice on the part of the mother for the good of the child. I was amazed to learn that there are so many gains for the mom as well. Truly, in giving we receive. What wonders God has created in us!

So, after being enlightened and inspired by the breastfeeding guide book, I decided to stretch my breastfeeding goal up to 2 years. By God’s grace, I’m confident that I would be able to meet this goal again.

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