According to a study published on Pediatric Clinics of North America, human milk changes in composition from colostrum to late lactation, and varies within feeds, diurnally, and between mothers. Its main composition, according to the study, is water, protein, vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Benefits of breastfeeding to the baby
Protect Baby From Infection and Diseases
Breast milk can boost the baby's immune system. Breast milk contains a variety of antibodies such as Immunoglobulin A (IgA). These antibodies are brought into the baby's body through breast milk and then distributed in the local mucosal surface of the baby's throat, nose, intestine, and stomach. These antibodies can immobilize bacteria by agglutination of cells or block adherence of bacteria to tissue or cell surfaces.
The breast milk also contains lactoferrin which can impede the proliferation of bacteria and inhibit the effect of bacteria such as E. coli.
Furthermore, breast milk contains lysozyme, macrophages which can digest and kill over 100 bacteria.
Reduce Risk of Childhood Cancer
According to a study led by a team of scientist from the University of Haifa’s School of Public Health in Israel, breastfeeding the baby can reduce childhood cancer and childhood diabetes.
Breast milk is good for the intellectual development of the baby. Whey protein in breast milk can aid the development of nerve cells which are crucial for the intellectual development of the baby.
Breast milk is rich in unsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid, and taurine. These are the essential component of the central nervous system which has a vital role in the brain development of infants.
Also, during breastfeeding, the mother can interact with her babies, this helps to promote the baby's intellectual development and language skill of the baby. Skin and eye contact and emotional exchanges between the baby and the mother during breastfeeding are beneficial to the infant's perceptual development.
According to one study by the scientists from Retina Foundation of the Southwest, Dallas, visual development is more advanced in breastfed babies as compared to formula-fed babies.
Reduce Sudden Infant Death
In one research done by researchers from the department of family medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, breastfed babies were 60% less likely to die from SIDs than babies who were fully on formula milk.
Protect the baby from developing allergies
Breastfeeding can protect the baby from developing allergies. Studies have shown that babies who are on formula milk tend to have more allergic reactions than breastfed babies.
Secretory IgA which is only available in breast milk can help protect a baby from the allergic reaction by providing a layer of protection to the baby's intestinal tract. Without this protection, inflammation might develop, and the wall of the intestine might allow undigested proteins to cross the gut, causing an allergic reaction and other health problems.
Because of so many benefits of breastfeeding, health authorities around the world such as the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics have been trying to promote exclusive breastfeeding for infants in the first six months after birth. Authorities in Singapore have also banned any forms of promotion of stage 1 formula milk to encourage breastfeeding.
Ballard, O., & Morrow, A. L. Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2013; 60 (1): 49–74: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcl.2012.10.002
Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.
Most women are capable of producing more milk that their infants require, but half of them suffer from perceived inadequate milk supply due to incorrect method of breastfeeding or other external factors