August 1 to 7 every year is observed as World Breastfeeding Week. Breastfeeding is an important task both for the mother and child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of the baby, exclusively. Breastmilk must not be replaced by formula milk, juice or water during the first 6 months of the newborn. After 6 months, breastfeeding should be continued along with other nourishing foods for the baby.
— Clare G #FBPE (@GillilandClare) August 2, 2018
This is because breastmilk provides ideal nutrition to infants. It has the perfect blend of fat, vitamins, proteins and everything else that your baby needs for a healthy growth. On World Breastfeeding Week 2018, we take a special look at the benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mother.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby
Breastmilk is known to contain antibodies which help the baby fight against virus and bacteria. Breastmilk reduces rates of asthma and allergies in newborns. Babies who are fed breastmilk exclusively for their first 6 months are lesser prone to diarrhoea, ear infections and respiratory illness.
Breastfeeding anytime, anywhere for the betterment of the child…It leads to child nourishment, therefore contributes in child's development, growth and survival.
World breastfeeding week 2018#breastfeeding#WBW2018 @DrAshokKumarRa2@1000Days @RautManojKumar pic.twitter.com/31OTqABIOt
— Ritu Ghosh (@RituGhosh) August 3, 2018
We speak to paediatrician Dr Gorika Bansal about the benefits of breastmilk for the mother and the baby. She says, “Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood compared to a formula-fed baby. Babies fed with breastmilk thus grow up to be more intelligent. What’s more, is, of course, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact and eye contact while breastfeeding – which together help baby bond with the mother and feel secure.”
Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother
Dr Gorika mentions the following benefits of breastfeeding for the mother:
1. Benefits of breastfeeding for mothers are such that it helps burn extra calories. It helps you lose pregnancy weight faster.
2. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth.
3. Benefits of breastfeeding for mothers are such that it lowers your risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in mothers.
4. It helps in forming a beautiful bond between you and your baby which is priceless. This is the reason why the World Health Organization vouches that mother’s breastmilk should be continued exclusively until 6 months of age.
World Breastfeeding Week 2018 focuses on preventing malnutrition, ensuring food security and breaking the cycle of poverty. Together, we can achieve the #SDGs! #WBW2018 @world_midwives @WABAsecretariat pic.twitter.com/HY0nL2ghSo
— Canadian Midwives (@Canadamidwives) August 2, 2018
We spoke to 2 women who beat all odds to continue to breastfeed…
Pratibha Sinha, mother of a 7-month-old: Stay at home mom
I quit my corporate job to take care of my child and I was pretty sure from the beginning that ‘breast is best’. I was devastated to know that the nursing staff at the hospital fed my baby formula. When I threw a tantrum, I was told that it was a normal practice for caesarean mothers as it allows them time to recover. I took control from the second day and despite the pain of my stitches ensured that I exclusively breastfeed the child. I was fortunate to have a supporting mother-in-law who ensured that I breastfeed. My baby is 7 months and I am proud to say that not even once did I let her have formula feed. I did it!
The most important thing to remember during World Breastfeeding Week 2018: Most of the purported benefits of breastfeeding are theoretical and have never been seen in practice. #WBW2018 pic.twitter.com/AbEowghCW4
— Amy Tuteur (@ATuteur) August 1, 2018
Shripriya Gupta, mother of 1.7-year-old: Working mom
My gynaecologist told me that it is okay to introduce formula milk in the early days as it allows the mom some time to rest too. But somehow I wasn’t comfortable with the idea, yet I let the nurses feed formula milk to my baby in the hospital along with my breast milk. But once I came back home, I decided to keep the bottle away. But when I took the baby to the doctor for a regular check-up, I was devastated to find out that he had lost weight and that was because he was staying hungry. The paediatrician suggested an infant formula but I realised that my baby preferred the boob over the bottle. It was a long struggle until he finally started accepting the bottle. I still breastfeed my son, though I wished to have done it exclusively for a minimum of 6 months.