Do you know the importance of breastfeeding your baby?

By: - 7th November 2018
baby


Just like nature’s miracle of a baby growing inside the mother’s belly, once the baby is born, mother’s blood turn to milk to feed her child. Since the time of conception, a mother’s body prepares to produce breast milk in order to nourish the baby. Not enough can be said about the exceptional nutritional value of breast milk specially formulated for newborn babies. Breastfeeding Usually starts within an hour after birth. Then onwards, if the mother and baby are both in a normal condition, the infant can be nourished for 6 months with just breast milk.

Do you know the benefits of breast milk for an infant?
  • Minimises infections and allergies.

  • After childbirth, the first milk that flows from the nipple is a thick, light-yellow liquid called Colostrum. Even though the flow is small in quantity, the child obtains a high level of nutrition and protection from it. As Colostrum is high in vitamin A, it develops the immunity of the infant’s body and protects the child from diseases. Colostrum is also able to destroy the bacteria which spread on the infant’s underdeveloped intestine. Also, it acts as the laxative that speeds up the removal of black colored feces (meconium) from the body, increasing the ability to absorb minerals into the body. Therefore, reducing the risk of Jaundice in newborn babies is also a special benefit of Colostrum.

  • Provides comprehensive nutrition.

  • The composition of breast milk changes dynamically. The first milk that the baby sucks is a light, colorless fluid that contains 90% water. The fluid that follows is thicker, white in color. Both kinds of milk are essential for the daily sustenance of an infant. Therefore, mothers should make sure that the child is fed until the milk in one breast runs out.

    Since the first milk has a high percentage of water, it covers the water requirement of the body and also the urine and stools are passed using it. The thicker, white-colored liquid that flows secondly provides fat and proteins to the baby. These contribute to the baby’s development. This milk also reduces the chances of suffering from conditions such as constipation.


    The benefits of breastfeeding for the mother.
    • Less postpartum bleeding.
    • Starting to breastfeed as soon as possible after childbirth is beneficial for both mother and baby. Breastfeeding speeds up the contraction of the uterus and helps to pass the residue left inside.

    • Eases postpartum depression or sadness/stress and keep both mother and baby happy.
    • Due to the hormonal changes that occur after childbirth and also due to the exhaustion of delivery, the mother has to face both physical and mental discomfort. Breastfeeding helps with such postpartum mood disorders.

    • Breastfeeding helps with weight-loss by dissolving extra fat deposited in the body. Since the fat gets eliminated from the body through breast milk, the mother does not put on weight. Therefore, breastfeeding can also help you maintain a great figure.
    • Minimises the risk of later on developing conditions such as breast cancer/ovarian cancer/ osteoporosis.
    • Breastfeeding an infant is considered as a natural birth control method, as the mother will not be conceiving during this period. This helps the mother to face the next pregnancy with a good mental and physical condition.
    • A great social, as well as financial stability in the family, will keep everyone happy.

    It is wise to breastfeed the baby for at least one year because of these benefits it brings to both mother and baby.

    Prepared in consultation with Dr Mahesh Kumbukage, Registrar in Community Medicine at the Family Health Bureau, Sri Lanka and Dr M.N. Jayawardena, Senior Registrar in Mycology at the Medical Research Institute of Sri Lanka.

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