Who and UNICEF recommend
- Early initiation of breastfeeding. As early as possible in normal delivery and within one hour after cesarean delivery.
- Exclusive breastfeeding till 6 months and continuation of breastfeeding till two years along with supplements after six months.
- Colostrums, the yellowish sticky secretion from the breast in the first few days is the perfect food for baby and must be given.
Optimal breastfeeding is so critical that it could save about 800 000 under 5 child lives every year. Breast milk is an optimal source of energy, minerals, and vitamins. It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and one-third of energy needs between 12 and 24 months. Breast milk is also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness and reduces mortality among children who are malnourished.
Breast milk is a complete food. It has more than 400 nutrients and also several antibodies which give strength to baby to fight infections. Formula milk can never beat breast milk in its composition.
There are several short-term and long-term advantages of breastfeeding for the baby. Breastfeeding can increase childhood IQ, it has a protective role for Type 2 diabetes and Obesity. Human milk feeding decreases the incidence of multiple infectious diseases in infancy, including bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, otitis media and urinary tract infections.
Not only the child but it also benefits mother, as it is associated with a decrease in the incidence of both breast and ovarian cancers, and a delay in the return of ovulation and greater postpartum weight loss. Breastfeeding is economical for families, with no need to purchase bottles and formula.
Breastfeeding does benefit the nation by reducing morbidity and mortality and also by reducing healthcare costs.
There are few situations where breastfeeding may be AVOIDED such as HIV, galactosemia, mother on some drugs which may harm the baby, active tuberculosis when the mother is not on treatment, mother abusing drugs.
For a successful breastfeeding one has to be Aware (A), Be Patient (B) and Comfortable (C).
A – Awareness of its benefits, demand feeding, positions.
B – You should be patient to feed your baby exclusively for 6 months and until the age of 2 years.
C – The mother should be comfortable and stress-free for proper milk formation and let down.
Above all breastfeeding helps create a strong emotional bonding between mother and baby.