“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth,” said Pamela Wiggins. As the world celebrates World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) this month, we are reminded that breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure a child’s health and survival.
WBW was started in 1992 to create public awareness and backing for breastfeeding. This year, the theme for breastfeeding week is ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.
According to World Alliance for Breast Feeding Action (WABA) optimal breastfeeding is vital to the lifelong good health and wellbeing of women and children.
As far as breastfeeding is concerned, World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend that:
- Early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.
- Continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond, with the introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months
Statistics from WHO says that nearly 2 out of 3 infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months, a rate that has not improved in 2 decades. Further, WHO adds that breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. This is because it is safe, clean, and acts as the babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many childhood illnesses.
According to WABA, scaling up breastfeeding can help prevent 20,000 maternal deaths and over 800,000 child deaths annually.
It is recommended that a mother should exclusively breastfeed her child for six months. During this period, the baby is allowed to take breastmilk only.
However, there are many reasons why mothers do not like breastfeeding their children. Some never breastfeed for aesthetic purposes, they fear that their breasts will deform if they breastfeed. Other reasons include cultural believes and ignorance on the importance of breastfeeding.
So, what are the benefits of breastfeeding?
The benefits of breastfeeding are beneficial to both the mother and the child, and they include:
- It helps boost the immune system of the infant. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria.
- Lowers the infant mortality rate. According to UNICEF, a study done in the US showed that babies who are breastfed have a 21% lower risk of death in their first year, compared with babies never breastfed. The reduction in risk rises to 38% if babies are breastfed for 3 months or more.
- Lowers the risk of developing infections such as respiratory tract infections, diabetes, allergic diseases, and childhood leukemia.
- It also helps enhance the cognitive function of the baby and enhances the emotional connection between the child and the mother. Compared with formula feeding, it was reported that breastfeeding is associated with improved cognitive development from infancy to adolescence.
- Additionally, breastmilk is extremely nutritious and healthy for the baby and can help the baby develop a healthy weight.” It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children.
Benefits of breastfeeding to the mother
According to Healthline below are some of the benefits that a mother accrues if she breastfeeds:
- Helps a mother lose weight. A mother who breastfeeds is more likely to burn more calories. In fact, after lactating for three months a mother is likely to experience more fat burning compared to a non -lactating mom.
- Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract. After giving birth, a woman’s uterus goes through a process called involution, which helps it return to its previous size aided by a hormone called Oxytocin. As you breastfeed oxytocin also increases. This hormone encourages uterine contractions, therefore, helping the uterus return to its previous size.
- Lower risk for depression. Mothers suffer from Postpartum depression (PPD) which develops after giving birth. Women who breastfeed seem less likely to develop postpartum depression, compared to mothers who wean early or do not breastfeed. Mothers who experience postpartum depression early after delivery are also more likely to have trouble breastfeeding and do so for a shorter duration.
- Breastfeeding reduces your disease risk. Breastfeeding seems to provide you with long-term protection against cancer and several diseases. The total time a woman spends breastfeeding is linked with a reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding prevents prevent menstruation. It has been proven that breastfeeding pauses ovulation and menstruation which is nature’s way of ensuring that a lady doesn’t become pregnant immediately after giving birth.
Remember you can buy your baby nursing products via MYDAWA and have them delivered within 4-6 hours after purchase within Nairobi. We have a team of customer service professionals available seven days a week from 8am to 10 pm to help you with your orders. Give us a call on 020 521 99 99 or send us a WhatsApp message on 0721 301 4480