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Breastfeeding - Its Benefits for both Mother and Baby

Dr. Abhishek Goel 90% (39 ratings)
Senior Residency, MD - Paediatrics, MBBS
Pediatrician, Gurgaon  •  15 years experience
Breastfeeding - Its Benefits for both Mother and Baby

Being a mother is the greatest gift to womankind. With the most amazing feeling of being a mother, comes big challenges and responsibilities. The first and foremost being, keeping the baby safe and healthy. Providing babies their best start begins with breastfeeding. Doctors around the world recommend exclusive breastfeeding to begin within the first hour of a baby’s life and continue until six months.

A mother’s milk has no substitute. It is packed with amazing nutritional benefits, the absence of which can lead children at risk of malnutrition and various diseases. Breast milk is often being termed as complete food with added antibodies, enzymes, hormones and fatty acids extremely vital for a delicate immune system of an infant. Babies build their immunity in the first few years of their life and breast milk is critical to developing immunity.

UNICEF working on child’s rights and well-being world over promotes breastfeeding schemes across many countries.

According to UNICEF reports, a non-breast fed child is 14 times likely to die within first six months than an exclusively breastfed child. An estimated 8,20,000 children under the age of five could be saved each year with increased breastfeeding. However, Only 38% of infants globally are breastfed. Looking at India’s state, Malnutrition continues to be one of the greatest challenges. One cost effective, safe and smart intervention to curb malnutrition and decrease infant mortality is breastfeeding.

Let’s now look at the benefits of breast milk for infants and mothers:

  • Breast milk is found to reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, asthma, food allergies, leukemia, diabetes and celiac disease.
  • Psychologists have long established the positive effects of mother’s touch in the emotional development of babies. In addition to this, breastfeed has positive effects on child’s cognitive development.
  • Breastfeeding has amazing benefits for mothers. It is found to aid weight loss post pregnancy. It promotes better uterus shrinkage and delays menstruation. Lactating mothers naturally avoid pregnancy till they breastfeed. It reduces the risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis later in life.
  • Considering the benefits of this super natural milk, many countries have now adopted an international code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes. The code promotes breastfeeding and restricts marketing of infant formula milk. India along with many other countries signed it.

India has also begun with a baby friendly hospital initiative where hospitals educate new mothers regarding breast feeding and strictly discourage infant formulas wherever possible. The myth of feeding newborn babies with honey, water, sugar does more harm than good. Thus, it is vital to exclusively breastfeed the baby at least for six months before introducing other foods. 

Ensure your child’s right to a healthy life through breastfeeding! If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a pediatrician.

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