Importance of breastfeeding - MMHRC

Importance of breastfeeding
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339 Views March 14, 2022

Exclusive breastfeeding means babies are given only breast milk and nothing else: no other milk, food, drink, not even water for one day (24 hrs) before the survey was conducted. It prevents 13% of childhood mortality; i.e, at least 1.2 million children worldwide would be saved every year. World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. no other fluids or solids) for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 2 years or as long as mother and baby desire

The advantages of colostrum

  • For the first 2-4 days of your baby’s life, your breasts will secrete colostrum, a yellowish fluid rich in proteins. These valuable proteins are essential to the development of a healthy immune system.
  • The protein is easily digested and absorbed by the body, especially by the rapidly developing brain.
  • Colostrum provides factors that promote maturation of the gut and good digestion.
  • Colostrum is the most superior and well-designed nutrition for your baby in the first few days of life.

Breast milk is nutritionally superior to formula

Human milk contains both saturated and unsaturated fats, as well as cholesterol, an important constituent of brain and nerve tissue. The fat in breast milk is more digestible than that in the formula.

The energy breast milk provides is more efficiently utilised, than the energy provided by formula.

Breast milk contains a full range of vitamins and minerals in an easily digestible combination.

Special immune system protective proteins are present in breast milk. These proteins offer protection against diarrhoea, food allergies and infections.

The immunoprotective components of human milk include:

  • Lactoferrin: binds to iron, thus rendering it unavailable to viruses and bacteria.
  • Lysozymes and milk leucocytes: destroy viruses and bacteria
  • Secretory IgA: immunoglobulin that destroys viruses and bacteria
  • Bifidus factor: promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and limits the growth of disease-causing bacteria.

Advantages of breastfeeding for the baby

  • Superior nutrition
  • There is increased resistance to infections, and therefore fewer incidents of illness and hospitalisation
  • Decreased risk of allergies and lactose intolerance
  • Breast milk is sterile
  • Baby experiences less nappy rash and thrush
  • Baby is less likely to develop allergies
  • Baby experiences fewer stomach upsets and constipation
  • Breastfed infants tend to have fewer cavities
  • Breastfeeding promotes the proper development of the baby's jaw and teeth.
  • Breastfed infants tend to have higher IQs due to good brain development early in life
  • Babies benefit emotionally because they are held more
  • Breastfeeding promotes mother-baby bonding
  • In the long term, breastfed babies have a decreased risk of malnutrition, obesity and heart disease compared to formula-fed babies.

Advantages of breastfeeding for the mother

  • Reduces the flow of blood after delivery
  • During lactation, menstruation ceases, offering a form of contraception
  • Mothers who breastfeed tend to lose weight and achieve their pre-pregnancy figure more easily than mothers who bottle feed
  • Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer later in life
  • Breastfeeding is more economical than formula feeding
  • There are fewer trips to the doctor and less money is spent on medications
  • Breastfeeding promotes mother-baby bonding
  • Hormones released during breastfeeding create feelings of warmth and calm in the mother
  • The decision to breast or formula feed remains your individual choice. However, breast milk is undoubtedly the best nutrition you can give your baby, with added benefits for a mother.
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