August 1st to 7th marked the annual World Breastfeeding Week. In Hong Kong, the statutory maternity leave lasts only 10 weeks, forcing many new moms back to work when the baby is not yet 3 months old. But fortunately, numerous moms decide to extend their maternity break with annual leave or non-paid leave to spend more time with their little ones, which allows them to breastfeed longer. Others take on pumping and preserving breast milk at work. If you are nursing, pregnant or planning to be, below are some encouraging reasons to breastfeed:
1) Breast milk contains the ideal nutrition for your newborn and contains disease-fighting antibodies that protect him/ her from illness. There is no equal replacement for breast milk. Health experts strongly recommend breastfeeding, as breast milk is the best food for infants and is often referred to as “liquid gold”.
2) Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies.
3) Studies show that babies breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months have stronger immune systems, with fewer ear infections, respiratory infections and hospitalizations.
4) A study published in the May 2010 issue of the journal Pediatrics revealed that babies who are breastfed are less likely to have fevers after their immunizations than babies who are fed formula.
5) Breastfeeding creates a strong bond between mother and baby, which is important for the baby’s emotional and intellectual development. Try stroking your baby’s skin while nursing- this helps to build and develop neurons in the baby’s brain which will allow him/ her to cope with emotional stress.
6) The National Institutes of Health, after reviewing more than 9,000 study abstracts, concluded that women who didn’t breastfeed or stopped breastfeeding early on had a higher risk of postpartum depression.
Commercial infant formulas are commonly thought to be the recommended infant food after breastfeeding, but it isn’t. The World Health Organization (WHO) states: “The second choice is the mother’s own milk expressed and given to the infant in some way. The third choice is the milk of another human mother. The fourth and last choice is artificial baby milk.”