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Benefits of breast milk

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)



  • Le Van Nhan MD., PhD., Director of Medical Services Department, Pacific Cross Vietnam, Lecturer of Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine
  • Tran Vinh Tai MD., MHEM, Lecturer of Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine

Breast milk is a milk made from a woman’s breast after pregnancy, which begins to be abundant about 24 to 48 hours after birth. Since babies have very low health and resistance, breast milk is considered to be the most important source of nutrition for babies before they can digest other foods.

According to nutrition experts, exclusively breastfed children during the first six months not only develop well physically, prevent malnutrition and disease, but also increase their IQ. A child who is not breastfeeding is 14 times more likely to die in the first six months of life than breastfed babies, in addition to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease circuit later.

Breast milk contains more than 80% water. Therefore, whenever a mother feels that her child is thirsty, she can breastfeed. This will satisfy your baby’s thirst, continue to protect him from infection, and help keep him growing well.

Babies do not need water until they are 6 months old, even in hot climates. This is the reason why WHO recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life.

How is breast milk produced and regulated? During pregnancy, high doses of estrogen and progesterone help the milk producing glands develop and function from the third month of pregnancy. They prepare for lactation but block the action and excretion of prolactin.

After birth, the amount of estrogen and progesterone decreases suddenly. This leads to the excretion of prolactin, which triggers the production of milk. The secretion of milk is controlled and maintained by two major hormones, prolactin and oxytocin.

Prolactin follows the blood flow to the mammary gland, stimulating milk production by mammary gland cells. Oxytocin enters the bloodstream to the mammary gland, which contributes to the formation of smooth muscle cells, expels milk and milk into tubes leading to the sinuses and follows the vessels to the nipple.

The secretion of milk will be corrected when the milk follicles are filled with milk. If the baby does not suckle or drink the milk, it is necessary to express the milk so that the milk production continues to be complete.

Thus, thanks to the mechanism of milk production described above, we find that to have more milk, you need more prolactin. This is done by breastfeeding a lot. The more babies suck, the more milk they produce.

According to WHO statistics, the global estimate shows that only 38% of 6-month-old babies are exclusively breastfed. Faced with the fact that more and more children have lost their breastfeeding benefits, the United Nations Children’s Fund, in collaboration with WHO, launched the “World Breastfeeding Week”.

Breast milk contains all the nutrients like protein – 70% whey (the soluble protein contains many antibodies against the disease, quickly digestible, easily absorbed) and 30% is a casein protein (insoluble protein, often plays a role in the development of muscle mass, absorption is limited in young children), powdered sugar (lactose and oligosaccharide), fatty acids are essential for the development of the brain and nervous system, as well as in the cells of the body, vitamins, minerals and trace elements that, during breastfeeding, the mother shared with the baby part of the immune system through antibodies contained in breast milk.

This is a great process that plays an important role in your baby’s natural defense system, not yet completed or fully formed at birth. Breast milk also plays a particularly important role in your baby’s intestinal flora, as breast milk contains probiotics of beneficial microorganisms (bifidobacteria and lactobacilli).

Breast-fed babies will have higher strength and intelligence than bottle-fed babies. Bottle-fed babies were found to be 3.9 times more likely to develop pneumonia and 17.3 times more likely to have diarrhea. Breastfed babies will have intellectual development, senses such as hearing, vision, touch… and the best language.

The rate of children with eczema, asthma, type 1 diabetes, food allergies… is even lower in obesity among non-breastfed children. In addition, breastfed babies are more balanced than bottle-fed babies. Breastfed babies often have stronger bones than bottle-fed babies.

Breastfeeding helps mothers burn calories and lose weight after birth, helping them to extend the distance to their next child, reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding helps to strengthen the bond between mother and baby. In addition, breastfeeding saves money for your family.

Breastfeeding, which brings important benefits of breast milk for mothers and babies, is the choice of smart families.


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