Breastfeeding is the healthier mode of feeding provided to the new born through their mothers by the nature. Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby but also for the mother. Exclusive breastfeeding is encouraged by the doctors up to the age of 6months which helps in not only building up a better immune system but also in growth and development
According to UNICEF; “Globally only 43% infants are exclusively breastfed and babies who are not breastfed are 14 times more likely to die as compared to those who are breastfed.”
As per UNICEF Representative to Pakistan Ms. Angela Kearney, “Pakistan has an alarmingly low rate of exclusive breastfeeding with only 38 per cent of children fewer than six months of age being fed by their mothers. Promotion of breastfeeding is one of the most important public health interventions by UNICEF. We work closely with the government at both federal and provincial levels to protect and promote the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life.”
Hence with these low rates of breastfeeding Pakistan, a proper channel is required to be established in order to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their newborns and counsel them by making them aware of the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding.
Advantages For Child
1. Strong Immune System:
The yellowish fluid from the breasts given to the newborn in the first 2-4 days of life is known as “Colostrum”. Colostrum is a protein and antibodies rich fluid that helps in boasting up the immune system of the newborn.
2. Better Nutrition:
Breast milk consists of full range of vitamins and nutrition. It is high in calorie and a better source of energy for the baby. As compared to the top feed, breast milk is more easily digestible and hence more suitable for the newborn’s gut.
3. Fewer Infections:
Breast milk consists on “lactoferrin” that binds to iron and makes it unavailable for the bacteria and viruses. Moreover consists of “Lysozymes” and “milk leucocytes” that help in killing the virus and bacteria. It has a special antibody “IgA” that helps in lowering down infections.
4. Prevent Childhood Obesity:
According to WHO, children who are breastfed are at a lower risk of developing childhood obesity as compared to those on formula feed. Obesity in infancy leads to a lot of diseases like diabetes, asthma, premature deaths, other respiratory issues etc. Hence breastfeeding helps in protecting against such hazardous diseases as well.
5. Other Benefits:
As per studies, children who are breastfed are less liable to ear infections and diarrhea as compared to those on top feed. Moreover it reduces the chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), early diabetes and certain cancers of childhood. According to researchers, babies who are breastfed have better IQs scores and thus play a great role in brain development as well.
Advantages For Mothers
1.Quick Weight loss:
Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and thus helps the mother in shedding of the pregnancy weight faster than usual.
2. Reduces Uterine Bleeding:
Breastfeeding induces release of a hormone named “Oxytocin” which is responsible for bringing about contraction of the uterus, thus reducing the post-partum bleeding. Moreover it helps in bringing the uterus back to its normal size.
3. Prevent Certain Cancers:
As per researchers, breastfeeding reduces the risk of Ovarian and breast cancers. But you need to breastfeed for at least 6months to one year to lower down the potential risk.
According to Rachel King, a health education specialist in MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center, “Research shows mothers who breastfeed lower their risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. And, breastfeeding longer than the recommended six months can provide additional protection.”
4. Reduces Type 2 Diabetes in Mothers:
Breastfeeding improves insulin sensitivity and thus reduces the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in mothers with history of Gestational Diabetes.
5. Natural mode on Contraception:
During Lactation, the menstrual cycles ceases due to the changes in prolactin levels, hence giving a natural period of contraception.
Breast milk is naturally produced by mother’s body and is more economical as compared to the formula milk which is quite expensive. More over the superimposed benefit of contraception adds to it.
Apart from the aforementioned benefits, breastfeeding helps a baby to develop a beautiful bond of love and care with the mother. The skin to skin connection is enough to give a feeling of security to the baby outside the womb. Hence measures should be taken to encourage the mothers of this newer generation to adopt breastfeeding over top feed for betterment of their as well as the baby’s health.