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Importance of Breastmilk to a Baby Essay Sample

Breast milk is the ultimate source of nutrition for a newborn baby. It provides carbohydrates as well as proteins and vitamins that help build healthy cells in a baby’s body. A baby needs these nutrients to grow and develop properly, thus ensuring a healthy brain, heart, and muscles at a young age. Breastfeeding is important for a baby’s growth and development because it is the only source of nutrition for newborns.  It is the best way for a baby to receive all of the essential nutrients that they need to develop properly. Breastfeeding not only helps babies have better control over the speed of their breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure, but also helps them gain weight and stay safe from diseases, infections, and childhood illnesses such as diarrhea.

According to World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Funds, breastfeeding babies helps improve their breathing, which makes it easier for them to sleep and improves the health of their lungs. The more breastmilk a baby receives, the easier it is for their lungs to improve (World Health Organization). When breastfeeding, babies get rid of more air during each breath. A mother’s breastmilk is made of tiny drops of fat, protein, and water that bridge the gap between the mother’s blood and her baby’s mouth (Williams 235). The mixing of blood with breast milk creates a “lactation shock” that helps to thin out the baby’s blood. The thinning of the baby’s bloodstream promotes better breathing and brain development. Babies who are exclusively breastfed have more than two times the amount of new blood that circulates in their blood and body every day (World Health Organization).

Breastmilk also regulates and controls a newborn’s heart rate, so when that milk is not being provided, the baby can have problems controlling its heartbeat. Babies who are not breastfeeding could go into distress or even die from low blood pressure (Singh). This may occur as early as several weeks after birth since the body’s first instinct is to manufacture breastmilk to ensure proper development of the baby’s body and brain (Parry 118). Babies who are not breastfeeding go through a rapid growth spurt at two to four weeks of age. During the spurt, the baby needs more sleep and the newborn will wake up frequently to feed on breastmilk (Brown 763). When the baby is not breastfeeding, they can quickly become tired and irritable, which leads to them fussing or crying and turning blue due to low oxygen levels in their body (World Health Organization). Medical experts suggest that babies should be exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months.

Moreover, the fats in breast milk help babies to absorb the energy they need to gain weight. Breast milk contains a high percentage of fat that is easy for babies to digest (Brown 761). Babies who are exclusively breastfed will have more room in their stomachs compared to formula-fed babies. The nutrients and calories in breast milk are designed to match the nutritional needs of a baby’s rapidly growing brain and body. Breastmilk contains all the components found in a mother’s entire body, including vitamins and minerals (Parry 117). Breastmilk also contains proteins, carbohydrates, and fat that are used for energy, building, and repairing cells. Calories in breastmilk are not just for building up a baby’s body but also to help their brain grow. Babies who are not breastfeeding go through a rapid growth spurt at two to four weeks of age. The baby’s rapid growth causes its system to digest food faster than it can absorb it. Breastfeeding helps regulate a baby’s appetite and encourages them to eat more, hence improving their growth and development (Singh).

In addition to helping babies gain weight, breastfeeding babies helps protect them from serious illnesses like pneumonia and meningitis. Babies who are not breastfed are at greater risk for serious illness and even death from infections such as diarrhea and tetanus (Singh). Breast milk has antibodies that help protect babies from such diseases and illnesses. When a baby starts breastfeeding, the antibodies that he or she gets from the mother’s milk help build up their immune system (Williams 235). Breast milk gives them protection during the early months when they’re too young to get vaccines. For example, breast milk contains a protein called lactoferrin. This protein helps to kill bacteria that can cause heartburn and diarrhea (Parry 114). Over time, it also prevents diarrhea and gas caused by the overgrowth of other bacteria in the baby’s intestines. It does this by restoring the balance of friendly bacteria called Bifidus in a baby’s gut (Parry 119). Breastmilk is not only safer for babies than any other available alternative, but breastfed babies also tend to have better health and are less likely to have infections and illnesses.

Breast milk helps newborns gain weight, protects them from diseases, infections, and common childhood ailments like diarrhea, as well as improves their ability to regulate their breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Without breast milk, a newborn baby will not be able to gain weight, and without weight, the baby’s body will not develop properly. Breast milk also helps babies sleep longer and strengthens their immune systems. All these things, when taken together, ensure that a baby has a healthy start to life, which is the most important period of their lives.

Works Cited

Brown, A. “Breastfeeding as a public health responsibility: a review of the evidence.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 30.6 (2017): 759-770.

Parry, Kathleen C., et al. “Evaluation of Ready, Set, BABY: A prenatal breastfeeding education and counseling approach.” Birth 46.1 (2019): 113-120.

Singh, Kavita, et al. “The importance of skin–to–skin contact for early initiation of breastfeeding in Nigeria and Bangladesh.” Journal of global health 7.2 (2017).

Williams, Julianne, et al. “The importance of continuing breastfeeding during coronavirus disease-2019: in support of the World Health Organization statement on breastfeeding during the pandemic.” The Journal of pediatrics 223 (2020): 234-236.

World Health Organization. “Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding: the baby-friendly hospital initiative for small, sick and preterm newborns.” (2020).

Last Updated on April 25, 2023

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