Infants in developing countries often suffer from infections (ear, throat, stomach) due to lack of proper knowledge about correct time of initiation and duration of breastfeeding. In developed countries, decreasing breastfeeding practices result in increased food allergies such as lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, peanut allergies, etc. Breast cancer incidence is also increasing rapidly and one of the ways to prevent it is through breastfeeding.
Importance of first milk
UNICEF suggests that the mother should start breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Milk secreted by the mother soon after childbirth is called ‘colostrum’. This colostrum is thick, yellowish milk having high protein content, vitamin A and sodium chloride (salts) and lower amounts of carbohydrates, fats and potassium. The numerous antibodies present in this colostrum lead to growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and offer life-long protection against infections.
Benefits of breast milk
– Improved gut health
– Increased immunity
– Cognitive development
– Protection against chronic diseases
Breastfeeding benefits to mothers
– Helps the uterus to shrink to its pre-pregnancy state
– Helps mother to lose weight gained during pregnancy.
– Helps in child- spacing among women who do not use contraceptives
– Reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
– Reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Breast- milk is like the elixir of life for the newborn. No child should be denied of this invaluable gift of nature. Infant formula prepared in laboratory cannot match the miraculous science behind composition of breast milk. Breastfeeding provides the natural way of balancing the health of the child as well as the mother. Any attempt to disrupt this physiological balance can lead to harmful repercussions for both.