New Delhi: According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding is one of the best ways to ensure a child’s health and survival. Unfortunately, nearly two out of three infants do not receive exclusive breastmilk for the recommended six months — a rate that has not improved in two decades.
Shelly Singh, Senior Consultant at Rosewalk Hospital, discusses the importance of breastfeeding for both mother and child.
There are numerous benefits to breastfeeding for both mother and baby, some of which last a lifetime. The most important reason is that nature intended it this way. Mother’s breast milk is full of macro and micronutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, immune properties and antibodies in the right amounts. As the mother’s immune system matures, antibodies against common microbes are produced and released in the mother’s milk. These substances coat the lining of the baby’s digestive system and protect them against illnesses. Furthermore, breast milk at the right temperature is not infected, unlike bottles and nipples, which can be infected if not handled carefully.
Breastfeeding mothers lose weight faster than those who do not breastfeed. They burn an additional 500 calories per day and become fitter earlier. Breast-feeding mothers’ uterus contracts to a pre-pregnant size much faster. Due to the same reason, blood loss following delivery is also reduced. Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to suffer from anemia and urinary tract infections. In addition, breast-feeding women are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancers.
As the mother bonds with her baby through skin-to-skin contact, happy hormones are released, which helps to prevent postpartum blues and depression. As a result, there is a greater sense of self-esteem and confidence which is emotionally rewarding. Breastfed babies cry less, which shapes their behavior for life. In addition, these mothers are usually more relaxed and have a better sense of their babies’ moods.
Irrespective of the financial status of the woman and household, breastfeeding is less expensive and safer than formula.
Babies whose mothers breastfeed them have fewer cases of diarrhea, constipation, gastroenteritis and necrotizing enterocolitis. They have a stronger respiratory system and are less susceptible to colds, pneumonia and other diseases. There is less chance of ear infections like otitis media, as well as infection like bacterial meningitis and eye infections. Also, they are likely to have better vision.
These babies will also grow up to be healthier children with fewer allergies, asthma, eczema, obesity and childhood diabetes, as well as a host of other benefits.
Moms who are healthier and fitter give birth to fitter, emotionally balanced babies and children, who are physically and mentally sound for a lifetime. Furthermore, it is a more pocket-friendly, eco-friendly and natural option, resulting in a win-win situation. Take away the bottle thought from your baby’s mind and give them that nectar instead.