World Breastfeeding Week
Dr. Manju Khemani, HOD, Obs. & Gynecology Saket City Hospital
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a annual celebration which is held every year from August 1 to 7 in over 120 countries. Organized by WABA, WHO and UNICEF, WBW was introduced in 1991 to encourage the mothers to breastfeed their infants for first six months after the birth in order to consolidate their immune system. Besides, the practice yields other remarkable health benefits , provides all the nutrients, protects the child from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fosters inclusive growth and proper psychological and physiological development of the child.
What is Breast Feeding?
It is the first step towards mother-baby bonding after birth. According to Dr. Manju Khemani, HOD, Obs. & Gynecology Saket City Hospital, “Breastfeeding is the phenomenon under which the mother feeds the baby with her breast milk instead of relying on bottle or other such tools. Experts recommend that children should be breastfed within one hour of birth.
Right time for Breast Feeding
Moreover, the infant should be given only the breast milk at least for the first six months of birth. This practice can continue till the child attains the age of two. However at this stage the breast milk can be supplemented with other food items as well. But the working mothers have to depend on cow milk as they leave the child with someone else to take care of. Breastfeeding keeps both the child and the mother healthy and protects them against a number of diseases. Longer breastfeeding strengthens the mental health of the child throughout the childhood till adolescence.”
Why breastfeeding is important?
Every woman’s journey to motherhood is different, but one of the first decisions a new mom makes is about feeding the child in the best possible way to keep him/her healthy throughout the life. The foundation of a sound mental and physiological health is kept in infancy. Breast milk is a concoction of all the necessary nutrients required to keep the baby healthy and ailment free. Mother’s milk gives a healthy start to the life which is counted on till the end.
Breast milk provides a balanced feed to the baby. It has carbs, vitamins, protein, fat, minerals and other things in proper ratio which a child needs to grow. It is easy to digest, and contains many such elements like anti-bodies to protect the baby against a number of diseases cuase by bacteria, virus and other micro-organisms. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of catching asthma or allergies in infants. Plus, possibility of getting ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea is also reduced considerably.
Dr. Manju further added, “Milk contains secretory Ig A antibodies against E Coli hence breast fed infants are less prone to enteric infection than bottle fed infants. Human milk also provides protection against rotavirus infections, which causes upto half of cases of infant gastroenteritis in country. Breast feeding also reduces asthma in early childhood. Human milk is ideal food for infant. It provides age specific nutrients as well as immunological factors and antibacterial substances.(American college of obstetrics and gynecology)Breast fed children have increased adult intelligence .Breast feeding also helps in losing weight.”
Breastfeeding can protect the baby from allergies: Babies who are fed a formula based on cow's milk or soy tend to have more allergic reactions than breastfed babies. Scientists think that immune factors, such as secretory IgA (only available in breast milk), help prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to baby's intestinal tract. Without this protection, inflammation can develop and the wall of the intestine can become porous." This allows undigested proteins to cross the gut where they can cause an allergic reaction and other health problems.
Breastfeeding boosts child's intelligence: Various researchers have found a connection between breastfeeding and cognitive development. They concluded from IQ scores and other intelligence tests that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding significantly improves cognitive development.
Breastfeeding may protect your child from obesity: Breastfeeding reduces a child's risk of becoming overweight as a teen or adult.
· Breastfed babies are better at eating until their hunger is satisfied, leading to healthier eating patterns as they grow.
· Breast milk contains less insulin than formula feed. (Insulin stimulates the creation of fat.)
· Breastfed babies have more leptin in their system, a hormone that researchers believe plays a role in regulating appetite and fat.
· Compared to breastfed babies, formula-fed infants gain weight more rapidly in the first weeks of life. This rapid weight gain often leads to obesity later in the life.
· Breastfeeding may lower your baby's risk of SIDS
Breastfeeding may reduce risk of some types of cancer: Numerous studies have found that the longer the women breastfeed their child, the more they're protected against breast and ovarian cancers. For breast cancer, nursing for at least a year appears to have the most protective effect.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
Breastfeeding is a wonderful gift for a mother and her baby. Many mothers feel fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while feeding. Mothers who breastfeed recover from childbirth complications more quickly and easily. The hormone oxytocin, released during breastfeeding, leads the uterus to return to its regular size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding. Studies show that women who breastfeed their child experience reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Some studies have found that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Finally, exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of the mother’s menstrual cycle thus preventing unwanted pregnancies.