UNBELIEVABLE BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
The word ‘NUTRITION’ is derived from the word ‘nutricus’ which means to ‘suckle at the breast’. Breast milk is the natural food for infants.
Breastfeeding, also known as nursing, is the feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. It is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
Breast milk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life. However, the rate of breastfeeding is as low as 30% in some groups of women. While some women are unable to breastfeed, others simply choose not to. Yet studies show breastfeeding has major health benefits, for both the mother and her baby.
- The infant should be put on breastfeed within the first hour after normal delivery and within four hours of caesarian sections.
- Prelacteal foods like honey, water, distilled water or glucose should not be given. This may lead to diarrhea and helminthic infestation.
- Breastfeeding can be initiated even when the mother is sedated or on IV fluids.
- Sucking reflex is most active at birth.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEED TO THE NEWBORN
- The composition of human milk is best suited to the infants and provides nutrients in easily digestible and available form.
- An infant derives a sense of security and belonging in the mother and child relationship.
- During the first 2-3 days after delivery, thick and yellowish fluid is secreted from the mammary gland. This is called COLOSTRUM. It is the first immunization to the infant.
- Colostrum helps the baby pass his/her first stool.
- It is economical to breastfeed an infant; even though the mother’s nutritional requirements are increased. Commercial preparations are way more expensive.
- There is no wastage of human milk.
- Infants fed with human milk substitutes have fivefold more digestive illness, inflammation of the middle ear cavity.
- Newborns have lesser chances of asthma, childhood leukemia, childhood obesity, misalignment of teeth, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- The infant’s jaw is more fully developed and teeth are less crowded as he works hard to extract milk.
- Reduced chances of allergy as breast milk protein does not cause allergy.
- Human milk is sterile and there are fewer chances of contamination.
- The mortality rate is lower in children who breastfeed.
- Less colic, as human milk protein and fats are easily digestible.
- Human milk is always fresh and at the right temperature.
- Breastfed babies have better cognition and IQ scores later in life.
- There are lesser chances of adult obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and atherosclerosis in later stages of life.
- It is one complete meal that is always fresh, ready, with no preparation, and no leftovers.
- Breast milk is a renewable resource. It cannot be adulterated, It cannot be diluted nor concentrated.
- It is the most digestible food for the sick baby.
- Breast milk also contains antibodies and live white blood cells that help your baby fight against infection. And, when you or your baby is sick, the amount of these cells in your breast milk increases.
- Research shows that breastfed babies have a better antibody response to vaccines than formula-fed babies
- It is the best pacifier for the sick baby.
- It offers anti-infective and immunological factors.
- It satisfies the baby’s nutritional and fluid demands.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEED TO THE MOTHER:
- Breastfeeding creates a strong bond with the infant.
- It is an important birth control method. Prolactin which helps in milk production reduces the production of ovarian hormones which is a cost-effective method of family planning. Although it is not a fool-proof method.
- It reduces postpartum bleeding and delays the menstrual cycle.
- When the mother feeds the infant, the uterus returns to normal size and arrests bleeding.
- Breastfeeding burns between 500-600 calories a day. It helps the mother to shed the extra weight that was accumulated during pregnancy.
- It saves time, money, and energy.
- It decreases the risk of breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.
- By breastfeeding, the requirement of insulin decreases in diabetic mothers.
- It provides the mother with a sense of calm and satisfaction which is required for the production of required hormones.
- It improves bone density and reduces the risk of fractures.
- It reduces the risk of post-partum depression.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THE ADEQUACY OF BREASTMILK TO YOUR CHILD?
- Infant passes light-colored urine more than 6 times in 24 hours on exclusive breastfeeding.
- The infant gains weight and grows normally.
“Breast milk is not only best but a must for an infant”.