A woman grows both physically and emotionally from the time she forms a relationship with her baby.
Breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition to baby and also improves mothers heath. Hence it is important to know its benefits for both the mother and her baby.
Worlds Breastfeeding Week , celebrated in the first week of August (1 to 7) every year, is marked to encourage breastfeeding, which improves the health of both, the babies and mothers around the world.
Here we discuss various benefits it has in the baby as well as the mother.
WHEN TO START
Ideally it should be started as soon as the baby is born, even before cutting the umblical cord.
The suckling of the baby releases hormone oxytocin which causes early seperation of placenta and reduces the blood loss during pregnancy.
Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for your baby including everything the baby needs. Its composition changes according to the babys need, therefore no milk can replace it.
It is easily digestable.
HEALTH BENEFITS TO BABY
In the first few days of life, colostrum is produced,which is thick yellow in color and rich in protiens and other compounds. It is essential for the development of newborns immature digestive system.
The presence of antibodies in breast milk helps the baby fight off viruses and bacteria and prevents baby from falling sick.
Babies, who have breastfed, have lower rates of asthma, diabetes, childhood leukemia and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Skin to skin contact helps the baby to thrive.
SAFE, HYGEINIC AND COST EFFECTIVE
Breast milk is always fresh, perfectly clean, just the right temperature, and is the healthy choice at the least cost. It requires no preperation and sterlization unlike formula feeding
EMOTIONAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS
A woman’s ability to produce all of the nutrients that her child needs can provide her with a sense of confidence and less anxiety.
Hormones released during breastfeeding help to strengthen the maternal and child bond.
UTERUS RETURNING TO NORMAL SIZE
Breastfeeding releases oxytocin and prolactin hormone which helps uterus get back to normal size quickly and also decreases blood loss.
These hormones help mother relax and be more nurturing towards the baby.
Mothers exclusively breast feeding their baby return to their pre-pregnancy weight much faster.
Breastfeeding appears to reduce the risk of obesity and hypertension.
Breastfeeding acts as a contraceptive measure and helps in birth spacing.
It is natural and totally free, called lactational amenorrhea method (LAM).
LONG TERM BENEFITS AND CANCER PROTECTION
Breastfeeding also has long term benefits as it decreases the incidence of reproductive cancers in the mother, including breast cancer,uterine cancer, endometrial and ovarian cancers.
It also reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis in later years of life.
EXPRESSED BREAST MILK
If mother is unable to feed the baby (when off to work or unwell) she can express her milk and relatives or healthcare workers can feed the baby by taking hygeinic measures.
SAFETY OF BREASTFEEDING IN COVID POSITIVE WOMEN
Major studies and evidences support the continuation of breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated in a study that breast milk is unlikely a source of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and it is the best choice for infant feeding .
Birthing parents who contracted the coronavirus are unlikely to transmit it to their newborn if proper precautions such as hand and breast washing, and wearing a surgical mask while feeding is followed .
Some experts also suggest that breastfeeding with COVID-19 can provide the newborn with antibodies that are protective against the coronavirus .
If you are very sick and cannot feed the baby,you can express breast milk and relatives/health care workers can provide it to your baby.
Express breastmilk frequently throughout the day to maintain your milk supply.
UNICEF points out the importance of following the 3 Ws, which are:
Wear a mask during feeding,
Wash hands with soap before and after touching the baby and,
Wipe and disinfect surfaces regularly.
ON A FINAL NOTE… Breastfeeding provides a unique emotional experience for the nursing mother and the baby. It is not always easy, but it is always worth it. So always practice it to enjoy its benefits for you and your little angel.