Gambia celebrating WHO World Breastfeeding week August 2018, Mother’s milk is the most naturist and most precious gift to mankind What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

WHO Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.

Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.

Stick to breastfeeding in The Gambia

It is common knowledge that breast milk is good for the growth and development of the child. It is easily digested and efficiently used by the body.

The importance and benefits of breast milk to the child cannot be over-emphasized, as it creates a strong bond between mother and child through the act of breastfeeding.

Breast milk provides babies with their first immunization dose from infections and bacteria. Babies are also less likely to become ill with preventable conditions, such as pneumonia, which accounts for 17% of child deaths globally and diarrhea, which also accounts for 16%.

Breastfeeding improves the physical and mental development of the child. Several studies conducted on children of various age groups have shown a great increase in intelligence in children who are breastfed, in comparison to those who were not breastfed.

In 1998, it was estimated that breastfed children between 6 months to 2 years of age were 2 points higher in intelligence than those who were fed with formulas.

Similarly, in 1992, the intelligence of breastfed children aged 7-8 was 8.3 points higher and in 1996 breastfed children, aged 9, was 12.9 points.

Mothers and breastfeeding women should make sure that their babies are well-fed with their breast milk to protect them from diseases, especially at a very early age.

In The Gambia, the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) has made significant strides in the area of exclusive breastfeeding.

This should not only stop there, but more efforts should be taken to promote and encourage exclusive breastfeeding. The feeding of babies with formulas should be discouraged as its negative impacts outnumbered its positive effects on the health of child.

It is our belief that it is only by doing so that our children can become more protected from disease, and even boosts their intelligence.

 All religions too recognize the value of breast milk. Unfortunately, this most precious gift of nature came to be pushed into secondary place especially with the evolvement of modernity. Formula Feeds became the trend encouraged by vendors of substitute milk foods especially in the developing world.

Aggressive marketing strategies succeeded in brainwashing generations of young mothers and made them oblivious to the dangers of artificial milk foods.

Thankfully for mankind, there were still rational voices crying in the wilderness and at a point of time these voices were heard and most importantly heeded. Thus, back to the breastfeeding movements gained momentum universally and in the 1970’s took centre stage when the exposure of the devastating effects of bottle feeding took place and many organizations were established to foster breastfeeding and attendant attributes especially over the last several decades like the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organizations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide. WABA action is based on the Innocent Declaration, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. Another organization taking the lead in fostering breastfeeding is International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN).

The thrust of WABA’s work is to provide common platforms to facilitate universal collective action and the main avenue is World Breastfeeding Week 2013.These organizations not only encouraged a return to mother’s milk but also fostered other necessary factors as peer counselling, the 2013 World Breast Feeding Week’s theme. La Leche League International spearheads this vital aspect of support for breastfeeding mothers globally. Mother to mother support breastfeeding movement.”

Peer counselling is a cost-effective and extremely productive way of reaching a greater number of mothers more frequently. Peer Counsellors can be any person in the community trained to support mothers. Peer counselling becomes essential when nursing mothers do not visit post-natal clinics. Then such community support becomes a lifeline.

Traditional support for nursing mothers came from the immediate and extended family but with society’s change and the onset of urbanization support for mothers from an extended circle has become essential. There are five recognized circles of support for nursing mothers, namely Family and Social Network, Healthcare, Workplace and Employment, Government Legislation and Response to Crisis or Emergency

What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby?

How long does the WHO recommended to breastfeed

How long should a mother breastfeed? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding

Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.

 What should you eat when you breastfeeding

1.    Starchy foods, such as bread, potato, pasta and rice. ...

2.    Some dairy produce, such as a yoghurt or a glass of milk.

3.    Some protein, such as lean meat, fish, eggs, or pulses.

4.    Plenty of fruit and vegetables.

5.   How long does a woman have breast milk after birth?


For a mom with no attendant problems, milk production lasts as long as the child nurses. Mine nursed for two and a half and three and a half years respectively. Until about 18 months I produced enough milk to donate to a preemie program, but the babies were then nursing for bedtime comfort mainly.


Breastfeeding, also known as nursing, is the feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast.  Health professionals recommend that breastfeeding begin within the first hour of a baby’s life and continue as often and as much as the baby wants.  During the first few weeks of life babies may nurse roughly every two to three hours and the duration of a feeding is usually ten to fifteen minutes on each breast.  Older children feed less often. 

Mothers may pump milk so that it can be used later when breastfeeding is not possible.  Breastfeeding has a number of benefits to both mother and baby, which infant formula lacks.

Deaths of an estimated 820,000 children under the age of five could be prevented globally every year with increased breastfeeding. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhea, both in developing and developed countries.

Other benefits include lower risks of asthma, food allergies, type 1 diabetes, and leukemia.  Breastfeeding may also improve cognitive development and decrease the risk of obesity in adulthood, Mothers may feel pressure to breastfeed, but in the developed world children generally grow up normally when bottle fed.

Benefits for the mother include less blood loss following delivery, better uterus shrinkage, and less postpartum depression.[3]Breastfeeding delays the return of menstruation and fertility, a phenomenon known as locational amenorrhea.  Long term benefits for the mother include decreased risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Breastfeeding is less expensive than infant formula.

Health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months.  This means that no other foods or drinks other than possibly vitamin D are typically given. 

After the introduction of foods at six months of age, recommendations include continued breastfeeding until one to two years of age or more.  Globally about 38% of infants are only breastfed during their first six months of life. 

In the United States, about 75% of women begin breastfeeding and about 13% only breastfeed until the age of six months.[3] Medical conditions that do not allow breastfeeding are rare.  Mothers who take certain recreational drugs and medications should not breastfeed.  Smoking, limited amounts of alcohol, or coffee are not reasons to avoid breastfeeding.[14][15][16]

Making the decision to breastfeeds a personal matter. It’s also one that’s likely to draw strong opinions from friends and family.

Many medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice, or water) for 6 months. And breastfeeding for a year at least with other foods which should be started at 6 months of age, such as vegetables, grains, fruits, proteins.

But you and your baby are unique, and the decision is up to you. This overview of breastfeeding can help you decide.

Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat -- everything your baby needs to grow. And it’s all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breastmilk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies.

Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.

Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. What’s more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure.

Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children.

The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It’s been thought to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers as well, but more research is needed.

Are There Breastfeeding Benefits for the Mother

Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose weight aster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower your risk of osteoporosis, too.

Since you don’t have to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples, or warm bottles, it saves you time and money. It also gives you regular time to relax quietly with your newborn as you bond.

Will you Make Enough Milk to Breastfeed

The first few days after birth, your breasts make an ideal “first milk.” It’s called colostrum. Colostrum is thick, yellowish, and scant, but there’s plenty to meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Colostrum helps a newborn’s digestive tract develop and prepare itself to digest breast milk.

Most babies lose a small amount of weight in the first 3 to 5 days after birth. This is unrelated to breastfeeding.

As your baby needs more milk and nurses more, your breasts respond by making more milk. Experts recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice, or water) for 6 months. If you supplement with formula, your breasts might make less milk.

Even if you breastfeed less than the recommended 6 months, it’s better to breastfeed for a short time than no time at all. You can add solid food at 6 months but also continue to breastfeed if you want to keep producing milk.

What’s the Best Position for Breastfeeding

The best position for you is the one where you and your baby are both comfortable and relaxed, and you don’t have to strain to hold the position or keep nursing. Here are some common positions for breastfeeding your baby:

Cradle position. Rest the side of your baby’s head in the crook of your elbow with his whole body facing you. Position your baby’s belly against your body so he feels fully supported. Your other, “free” arm can wrap around to support your baby’s head and neck -- or reach through your baby’s legs to support the lower back.

 Football position. Line your baby’s back along your forearm to hold your baby like a football, supporting his head and neck in your palm. This works best with newborns and small babies. It’s also a good position if you’re recovering from a cesarean birth and need to protect your belly from the pressure or weight of your baby.

 Side-lying position. This position is great for night feedings in bed. Side-lying also works well if you’re recovering from an episiotomy, an incision to widen the vaginal opening during delivery. Use pillows under your head to get comfortable.

Then snuggle close to your baby and use your free hand to lift your breast and nipple into your baby’s mouth. Once your baby is correctly “latched on,” support your baby’s head and neck with your free hand so there’s no twisting or straining to keep now Do I Get My Baby to ‘Latch on’ During Breastfeeding

Position your baby facing you, so your baby is comfortable and doesn’t have to twist his neck to feed. With one hand, cup your breast and gently stroke your baby’s lower lip with your nipple. Your baby’s instinctive reflex will be to open the mouth wide. With your hand supporting your baby’s neck, bring your baby’s mouth closer around your nipple, trying to center your nipple in the baby’s mouth above the tongue.

You’ll know your baby is “latched on” correctly when both lips are pursed outward around your nipple. Your infant should have all of your nipple and most of the areola, which is the darker skin around your nipple, in his mouth.

While you may feel a slight tingling or tugging, breastfeeding should not be painful. If your baby isn’t latched on correctly and nursing with a smooth, comfortable rhythm, gently nudge your pinky between your baby’s gums to break the suction, remove your nipple, and try again. Good “latching on” helps prevent sore nipples.

What Are the ABCs of Breastfeeding

 A = Awareness. Watch for your baby’s signs of hunger, and breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry. This is called “on demand” feeding. The first few weeks, you may be nursing eight to 12 times every 24 hours. Hungry infants move their hands toward their mouths, make sucking noises or mouth movements, or move toward your breast. Don’t wait for your baby to cry. That’s a sign he’s too hungry.

 B = Be patient. Breastfeed as long as your baby wants to nurse each time. Don’t hurry your infant through feedings. Infants typically breastfeed for 10 to 20 minutes on each breast.


    C = Comfort. This is key. Relax while breastfeeding, and your milk is more likely to “let down” and flow. Get yourself comfortable with pillows as needed to support your arms, head, and neck, and a footrest to support your feet and legs before you begin to breastfeed.

Are There Medical Considerations with Breastfeeding

In a few situations, breastfeeding could cause a baby harm. You should not breastfeed if:

  You are HIV positive. You can pass the HIV virus to your infant through breast milk.

You have active, untreated tuberculosis.

 You’re receiving chemotherapy for cancer.

 Your baby has a rare condition called galactosemia and cannot tolerate the natural sugar, called galactose, in breast milk.

 You’re taking certain prescription medications, such as some drugs for migraine headaches, Parkinson’s disease, or arthritis.

Talk with your doctor before starting to breastfeed if you’re taking prescription drugs of any kind. Your doctor can help you make an informed decision based on your particular medication.

Having a cold or flu should not prevent you from breastfeeding. Breast milk won’t give your baby the illness and may even give antibodies to your baby to help fight off the illness.

Also, the AAP suggests that -- starting at 4 months of age -- exclusively breastfed infants, and infants who are partially breastfed and receive more than one-half of their daily feedings as human milk, should be supplemented with oral iron. This should continue until foods with iron, such as iron-fortified cereals, are introduced in the diet. The AAP recommends checking iron levels in all children at age 1.

Discuss supplementation of both iron and vitamin D with your pediatrician your doctor can guide you on recommendations about the proper amounts for both your baby and you, when to start, and how often the supplements should be taken. 

Why Do Some Women Choose Not to Breastfeed

  Some women don’t want to breastfeed in public.

  Some prefer the flexibility of knowing that a father or any caregiver can bottle-feed the baby any time.

  Babies tend to digest formula more slowly than breast milk, so bottle feedings may not be as frequent as breastfeeding sessions.

Further information can be found at all Government’s Hospitals and Clinics, Health Ministry, Neonatal Unit, Number of NGO’s and private Clinics. Send e mail, or send text only to Dr Azadeh on 7774469/3774469. 

Author DR AZADEH Senior Lecturer at the University of the Gambia, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services.

Author: DR AZADEH Senior Lecturer at the University of the Gambia, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services.
Source: Picture:Dr Azadeh