Q: I have read that breastfeeding helps with obesity prevention. Is this true?
A: Breastfeeding has many benefits that does include obesity prevention.
The milk a mother produces naturally after giving birth is designed to give the baby what he/she needs to be able to thrive.
Breast milk is easy for the baby to digest and has all of the nutrition the baby should need.
Breast-fed babies typically don’t require supplemental food or cereal until they are 6 months old. It is believed that infants introduced to food early can develop food allergies later on.
Breast feeding can also help babies stay healthy. As a matter of fact, during the first days of breastfeeding, the baby is getting colostrum, a thick liquid that is immuno-protective and helps the baby to be able to fight infection better. It can help prevent illnesses like ear infections, colds and even diaper rash.
Breastfeeding can help prevent childhood obesity; this is partly because the production of breast milk is regulated based on need.
If a mother is breastfeeding her baby regularly, the baby will nurse until the baby is either full or until there is no milk left in the breast.
Breast milk is produced based on the need set by the baby. This helps babies not to become accustomed to be overly full, which helps them gauge their fullness better.
If the mother’s breasts are emptied often during nursing, it signals the body that more milk is needed and more milk is produced.
If the mother’s breasts are left full often, it means too much milk is being produced and less milk is produced.
Sometimes women struggle with not producing enough milk and this can be attributed to letting the breasts stay full too often.
It is important to protect your child from obesity, and breastfeeding is one way to help do so. Statistics have shown that an overweight babies will be more likely to be overweight or obese as they grow and then the risk continues on to having a greater chance of being obese as an adult.
Obesity is a risk factor that leads to other diseases,such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and arthritis. These diseases were once thought of as adult diseases, but doctors are seeing more of these health problems in children struggling with obesity.
There is a benefit of breastfeeding for the mother, too. Pregnancy can leave the abdominal tissues, including the uterus, abdominal muscles and skin stretched out. Breastfeeding stimulates hormones to shrink the uterus down, which helps the abdomen shrink, too.
Breast milk is free and environmentally friendly.
If you are considering breast feeding there are many resources that can help with questions you may have. If you are having issues with breastfeeding and want to continue, talk to your doctor about recommending someone who specializes in teaching breast feeding called a lactation consultant.