1st to 7th August 2020 is celebrated as World Breastfeeding Week. The theme for 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”. Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional, and emotional benefits to both children and mothers. And it forms part of a sustainable food system. But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months for your newborn and continued breastfeeding for two years as a supplement along with other foods. Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates. There is nothing better for the health of your baby.

Nutrients in Breast Milk
The following is a brief overview of the components of breast milk and the nutrients they provide for your baby:

  • Proteins
    Human milk contains two types of proteins: whey and casein.  Approximately 60% is whey, while 40% is casein. This balance of the proteins allows for quick and easy digestion. 
  • Fats
    Human milk also contains fats that are essential for the health of your baby.  It is necessary for the brain, retina, and nervous system development.
  • Vitamins
    Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D, and pantothenic acid can be found in breast milk at levels that depend on the mother’s diet.
  • Carbohydrates
    Lactose is the primary carbohydrate found in human milk.  It accounts for approximately 40% of the total calories provided by breast milk. Lactose helps to decrease a large number of unhealthy bacteria in the stomach.

Breastfeeding – Benefits for your baby

Know why breast is best for your baby:

Breastfeeding protects your baby
Breast milk is full of live ingredients, including stem cells, white blood cells, and beneficial bacteria, antibodies, enzymes, and hormones, which all help fight infection and prevent disease. Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, colds, and flu as well as ear and chest infections.

Premature babies
Feeding your baby your milk offers the best protection against potentially fatal conditions including sepsis, chronic lung disease and necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). 

Colostrum: the superfood for your baby
Colostrum the initial thick breast milk is rich in minerals like magnesium; which supports your baby’s heart and bones; and copper and zinc, which help develop their immune system.  

Helps your Baby sleep
Research shows that breastfed and formula-fed babies are just as likely to wake for milk during the night. However, breastfed babies get back to sleep sooner due to oxytocin hormone present in breast milk.

Brain development
Research suggests that children who’d been exclusively breastfed show a much higher cognitive development than children who have not been breastfed.

Benefits for the mother

Helps contract your uterus
When you breastfeed, it causes your body to release oxytocin, a calming chemical sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” and it helps your uterus to contract back to its regular size.

It can help reduce the risk for PPD
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 10 to 15 percent of new moms and brings feelings of sadness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and trouble bonding with their babies. Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of Postpartum depression.

It could reduce your cancer risk
When you’re breastfeeding, your hormones are altered and your periods are delayed. This reduces your exposure to oestrogen hormone and lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding can protect your heart
Women who breastfed for at least four months had 20 to 30 percent lower risks for hypertension and heart disease.

Breastfeeding Myths and Facts

There are many myths and facts associated with breastfeeding especially passed on from elders. Let us bust these myths and facts:

Myth: Many mothers can’t produce enough milk
Fact: Almost all mothers produce the right amount of milk for their babies. Breast milk production is determined by how well the baby latches and the frequency of breastfeeding.

Myth: You shouldn’t breastfeed if you’re sick
Fact: In most illnesses, the mother can continue breastfeeding. Your milk will produce antibodies to pass on to your child to build his or her defenses. 

Myth: You should eat bland food while breastfeeding
Fact: Breastfeeding has no food restrictions. Mothers must follow a healthy well-balanced diet and stay hydrated.

Myth: It’s hard to wean a baby if you breastfeed for more than a year
Fact: There’s no evidence that it is more difficult to stop breastfeeding after one year, but there is evidence that breastfeeding up to two years is beneficial for both mothers and children.

Breastfeeding in India

Only 54.9 % of children under the age of six months have been exclusively breastfed, according to the latest National Health and Family Survey (NHFS-4). For the healthy growth of a child, the child must be breastfed and consume no other solid or liquid food until the infant completes six months. The latest survey also shows that 56% of the rural children below six months were exclusively breastfed, while it was only 52.1% amongst urban children.

Are you a new mom? Are you struggling with your breastfeeding journey with little help in these difficult times? Breastfeeding needs support, care and timely guidance by an expert. Seek help from lactation consultants virtually at our Centre for Mother and Child from the safety of your home. Please find below the link to book your online appointment: https://www.kokilabenhospital.com/manage/shop/online-consultation-new-patient.html

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