Breastfeeding is breastfeeding
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated around the globe every year from 1st to 7th August, to campaign and raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers and work to support breastfeeding mothers and normalize the practice.
Most healthcare professionals recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months or much longer.
Optimal benefits for mother and baby are attained if breastfeeding continues through the first year of life.
Breastfeeding –Benefits to the baby
During the first days after birth, the mother’s breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum .
What are the benefits of colostrum?
- Helps the baby build a strong immune system, and helps to establish a healthy gut by creating a tough coating on the baby’s stomach & intestines to keep germs from causing illness and prevent inflammation
- Offers ideal nutrition for a newborn.
- Has a laxative effect that helps the baby clear meconium and lessens the chance of jaundice.
- Easy to digest.
- Gives your baby’s brain, eyes and heart the right blend of nutrients to grow.
- Contains high levels of protein, salts, fats, and vitamins for complete nutrition.
- Helps to prevent low blood sugar in newborns.
After the first few days, the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby’s stomach grows.
Benefits of breast milk
Foundation of lifelong good health.
· Breast milk contains the right amount of protein-60% whey and 40% casein., sugar, fat, and vitamins, provides ideal and optimal nutrition for the infants need to thrive in the first 6 months of life, in all the right proportions.
· Its composition even changes according to the baby’s changing needs, especially during the first month of life.
· Breast milk provides abundant and easily absorbed nutritional components, antioxidants, enzymes, immune properties, and live antibodies from the mother.
· Breast milk won’t provide enough vitamin D .
· Breast milk is easily digested, and is readily available and at right temperature
2. Baby’s first immunization
· When a mother is exposed to viruses or bacteria, she starts producing antibodies which are passed on to the baby through the breast milk and protect her baby from illness by building stronger immune systems that fight off viruses and bacteria, which is critical in those tender, early months.
· IgA protects the baby from getting sick by forming a protective layer in the baby’s nose, throat, and digestive system .
· Breastfed babies have
Ø Less diarrhoea , constipation , gastroenteritis , gastro oesophagal, and preterm necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) .Intestinal tissue damage. .
Ø Fewer colds and respiratory illnesses like pneumonia , respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and whooping cough
Ø Breastfeeding can help protect babies against some short- and long-term illnesses and diseases. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of ear infections, allergies, Eczema, asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Fewer cases of bacterial meningitis
Ø Fewer childhood cancers, including leukaemia and lymphomas
Ø Fewer instances of Crohn’s disease and colitis
Ø Fewer speech and orthodontic problems
Ø Fewer cavities
Ø Breast milk promotes a baby’s healthy weight and helps prevent childhood obesity. .
Ø Better vision and less retinopathy of prematurity
Better brain development:
Ø Breastfeeding has significant positive effects on babies’ long-term brain development.
Ø There may be a difference in brain development between breastfed and formula-fed babies. This difference may be due to the physical intimacy, touch, and eye contact associated with breastfeeding as well as nutrient content.
Ø Breastfed babies have higher intelligence scores and are less likely to develop behavioural problems and fewer learning difficulties as they grow older
Ø Breast milk also contains substances that naturally soothe infants.
Ø Improved Vaccine Effectiveness
Breastfed infants showed better serum and secretory responses to oral and parenteral vaccines than formula-fed, whether with a conventional or low protein content
Ø Less illness and less hospitalization and lower rates of infant mortality.
Benefits for Mother
Breastfeeding –Physical benefits for mother:
- Promotes faster weight loss after birth, burning about 500 extra calories a day to build and maintain a milk supply.
- Stimulates the uterus to contract and return to normal size.
- Less postpartum bleeding
- Fewer urinary tract infections
- Lower rates of pre- and postmenopausal breast cancers
- Lower risk of ovarian cancer.
- Lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
- Less endometriosis.
- Less osteoporosis with age.
- Less diabetes.
- Less hypertension
- Less cardiovascular disease.
- Lower risk of multiple sclerosis
Breastfeeding–Emotional benefits to the mother:
- Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk for postpartum depression and more positive mood
- Breastfeeding produces the naturally soothing hormones oxytocin and prolactin that promote stress reduction and positive feelings in the nursing mother.
- Increased confidence and self-esteem
- Increased calmness. Breastfed babies cry less overall, and have fewer incidences of childhood illness. Breastfeeding can support the wellness of body, mind, and spirit for the whole family.
- Breastfeeding makes travel easier. Breast milk is always clean and the right temperature.
- Physical/emotional bonding between mother and child is increased. Breastfeeding promotes more skin-to-skin contact, more holding and stroking, affectionate bonding during the first years of life help reduce social and behavioral problems in both children and adults.
- Breastfeeding mothers learn to read their infant’s cues and babies learn to trust caregivers. This helps shape the infant’s early behavior.
· Continued breastfeeding also pauses ovulation and menstruation.
· Breastfeeding offers society not only improved health of children and mothers but also economic and environmental benefits.
Benefits to Environment
Breastfeeding does not waste scarce resources or create pollution. Breast milk is a naturally-renewable resource that requires no packaging, shipping, or disposal.
There is less use of natural resources (glass, plastic, metal, paper) and also less waste for landfills.
Reduced absenteeism in the workplace due to children’s illnesses. Breastfeeding reduces the number of sick days that families must use to care for their sick children.
Electricity or fuel are consumed in the preparation of infant formula. Breastfeeding requires no packaging, and its production does not harm the environment.
Breastfeeding-Saves time and money
By choosing to breastfeed, you won’t have to:
- Spend money on formula
- Calculate how much your baby needs to drink daily
- Spend time cleaning and sterilizing bottles
- Mix and warm up bottles in the middle of the night (or day)
- Figure out ways to warm up bottles while on the go
Benefits to the Nation
Breastfeeding reduces the cost of healthcare and the need for costly health services and the money thus saved can be spent on useful sectors like education and skill development, agriculture and research development.
When breastfeeding should be avoided?
· Active or untreated T.B.
· Mother takes radioactive compound or chemo for cancer
· Mother taking illicit drugs
· Mother with HIV