World Breastfeeding Week: What you need to know as a mother for your baby's growth
We spoke to Dr. Ravneet Joshi, a Consultant-Lactation Specialist, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road, who explained some benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the infant and suggested that it should be practised during the first six months and continued up to 2 years of life and beyond.
Breastfeeding is one of the greatest joys a woman can experience as a mother. It benefits both the mother and the child. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) with WHO and UNICEF elaborates on the benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and baby.
Importance of Breastfeeding in the Baby's Growth:
Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants; it has all the required nutrients for babies' healthy growth and development. Breastmilk contains specific antibodies that protect babies from common illnesses, including diarrhoea, breathing problems, ear infections, pneumonia, asthma, and eczema. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It contributes to a baby's brain development (studies also show that breastfed children have higher IQ). In addition to being easily digestible, breast milk reduces risk of certain cancers later in life.
Breastfeeding and the Mother's Health:
Evidence shows that breastfeeding mothers are at a lower risk of postpartum depression and postpartum haemorrhage. They have a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer later in life, which is why breastfeeding is as important for the mother as it is for the baby. Breastfeeding can also reduce the mother's risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. While Breastfeeding, the mother burns up to 500 calories a day, so this is the best way to lose weight while sitting and relaxing. Breastfeeding releases the relaxing hormone oxytocin that reduces stress. This helps the mother feel a better sense of bonding with her baby.
Breastfeeding contributes to a better environment. Breastmilk is always fresh and readily available at safe temperatures. It needs no preparation and is the best possible nutrition for the baby. It is energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
Breastfeeding provides health benefits to the mother and child and helps the mother establish an emotional bond towards the beginning of the baby's life. It allows the mother lay the loving foundation of the mother and child relationship. Before the child arrives, educating the mother about the benefits of breastfeeding is important.