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Why is breastfeeding so tremendously vital for babies and their mothers?

Nov 6, 2012, 11:15 AM | Article By: Isatou Senghore

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.

DR AZADEH our health adviser a senior Lecturer at the UTG and a Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology is focussing this week’s health advice on the important of breastfeeding not only for the babies also for the mother too. Furthermore we understood that they are mothers who are not advised breastfeeding.  

DR AZADEH what are the benefits of Breastfeeding?

You may be familiar with the old adage, “breast is best.” Breastfeeding have certain advantages to nursing your baby. Here is a list of some of the ways breastfeeding can benefit you and your child.

Advantage 1 - Immunological Benefits

Studies have shown that babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life are less likely to develop ear and respiratory problems. Breastfed babies also had a lower incidence of gastrointestinal issues. The reason for this is that breast milk provides babies with key antibodies that help protect them from infection and disease.

Advantage 2 - Protection against Allergies

Research suggests that the fatty acids found in breast milk may help prevent infants from developing food and/or respiratory allergies. Certain studies also suggest that babies who were breastfed were less likely to develop asthma and eczema.

Advantage 3 - Brain Development

There is a connection between breastfeeding and higher IQs. Studies show that babies who were breastfed six months or longer had an advantage over formula-fed infants.

Advantage 4 - Childhood Obesity

Because breastfed infants are fed on demand, they are taught to stop eating when they are full. So babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity and less likely to become obese adults. Studies also suggest that food preferences may be passed on during nursing. Since a breastfeeding mother must consume a nutrient rich diet, breastfed infants are exposed to healthy foods early on in life.

Advantage 5 - Breastfeeding and Pre-Pregnancy Weight

Breastfeeding can help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly. Your body needs a lot of energy to produce breast milk. So you can burn a lot of calories just by feeding your little one.

Advantage 6 - Bonding

Breastfeeding offers you a unique way to bond with your little baby. In fact, studies have shown that an infant’s suckling can actually release the hormone oxytocin that increases maternal affection and helps mothers build relationships with their newborns.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mum

Breastfeeding is a wonderful gift for you as well as your baby. Many mothers feel fulfilment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while nursing. These feelings are augmented by the release of hormones which produces a peaceful, nurturing sensation that allows you to relax and focus on your child, and  promotes a strong sense of love and attachment between the two of you. These pleasant feelings may be one of the reasons so many women who have breastfed their first child choose to breastfeed the children who follow.

Health Benefits

Breastfeeding provides health benefits for mothers beyond emotional satisfaction. Mothers who breastfeed recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. One hormone released during breastfeeding, acts to return the womb to its regular size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding. Studies show that women who have breastfed experience reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Some studies have found that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Finally, exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of the mother’s menstrual period, which can help extend the time between pregnancies. (Exclusive breastfeeding can provide a natural form of contraception which only protect for 3 months only and longer than she will need an additional family planning method.

Are there cases in which it is better not to breastfeed?

In certain situations, health care providers may advise a woman not to breastfeed:

• A woman with certain health conditions, such as HIV or active tuberculosis, should not breastfeed because she risks giving the infection to her infant through her breast milk.

• ertain medicines, including some mood stabilizers and migraine medicines, can also pass through the breast milk and cause harm to the infant.

 Women with certain chronic illnesses may be advised not to breastfeed, or to take special steps to ensure their own health while breastfeeding. For example, women who have diabetes may need to eat slightly more food while they breastfeed, to prevent their blood sugar levels from dropping.

• omen who have had breast surgery in the past may face some difficulties in breastfeeding.

If a mother stops breastfeeding before the child is a year old, then she should feed her infant iron-fortified, commercially available formula. Health care providers advise women not to give their infants cow’s milk until the child is at least a year old.

If you have any health conditions, or you are taking any medications or over-the-counter supplements, you should discuss breastfeeding with your health care provider.

Breast Milk Facts

Breast milk is an amazing substance that cannot be duplicated by any artificial means 7,15 Unique in its composition and function, breast milk contains an ideal balance of nutrients that the infant can easily digest Changes over time, and even over the course of a day, to meet the changing needs of the growing child contains substances essential for optimal development of the brain, with effects on both cognitive and visual function9 supplies growth factors that combine to mature the infant gut provides the infant with immune factors manufactured to fight allergens and illnesses specific to the mother’s and infant’s environment

For the further information infant well fear Ministry of Health, All Governments’ Hospitals and health centres throughout the country, NGO’s and private Clinics, call the West Coast live health show with Peter Gomez and Dr Azadeh every Tuesday from 6-7pm, mail on azadehhassan@yahoo.co.uk,THE POINT health section, or call DR Azadeh on 7774469 on working days from 3-6pm.