Before I had my baby, I found that there was an overwhelming amount of information everywhere discussing the effects of breast feeding on a mother’s mental health. It is widely known that the act of breast feeding causes the brain to secret chemicals which induce happiness and a sense of calm. After I started breast feeding, I began to wonder what the mental health effects were for babies who are breast fed. I did not remember reading any information on this subject. I decided to ask my baby’s pediatrician about it. He had some very insightful information for me. The information he gave me is something which I think mothers to be and new mothers should be informed about.
My baby’s pediatrician told me that it had been found that babies who have been strictly breast fed for at least six months have positive mental health effects from it. These babies were found to have better mental health overall throughout their childhood. This information was gathered from a study which was conducted in Australia. Over 2,000 children were followed for sixteen years during the course of this study. I think these researchers are still following these children.
The reason for the decreased amount of mental health issues in breast fed babies as they grow older is believed to be linked to the bioactive components in breast milk and how they help the brain during this crucial time of development. The brain of a baby develops rapidly over the first year of their life.
The study showed that breast milk was the main reason these children had better mental health. This is because the researchers of this study took into account the income and educational level of the parents. They also took the emotional stability of the homes the babies were raised in. No matter what the situations were surrounding how these breast fed babies were raised, they still showed less mental health issues than their bottle fed peers.
The same study found that babies who were breast fed for less than the first six month of their lives also showed an increased level of possible mental health issues. In these cases babies have been shown to have more than a 50% increased threat of the development of negative mental health issues.
Some of the negative mental health issues which breast fed babies are protected against include aggressive behavior, anti-social behavior, anxiety, social withdraw and depression.
All of this information, coupled with all of the other benefits I already knew breast feeding was offering my baby, made me proud of my decision to breast feed. I now try to share as much of this information as I can with all mothers. I think that if there are more of us letting others know about all of the amazing benefits of breast feeding, we can do a lot for the children of the world. Maybe if we all keep spreading the word we can eventually eliminate any of the negative connotations people have about breast feeding.