The first week of August every year is celebrated as world breastfeeding week and his year’s theme is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”
Breastfeeding is the feeding of infants and young children with breast milk directly from the female breast.
Breast milk is the natural food for infants and it is the optimal exclusive food for infants up to the age of 6 months.
Optimal infant feeding practice recommended by WHO and UNICEF involves exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, followed by adequate complementary feeding while breastfeeding continues until the child is at least 2 years ago.
This will supply the macro and micronutrient in adequate amounts for optimal growth and development of the child.
Virtually every woman can breastfeed.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
TO THE BABY
- Confers immunity and protects against infections especially gastrointestinal tract infections and respiratory tract infections.
- Contains the right balance of nutrients i.e. it is complete, for optimum growth and development.
- Reduces the risk of allergies like asthma.
- A mild laxative, meconium is easily evacuated and lessens the risk of neonatal jaundice
- More intelligent children ( Taurine and cysteine help in brain development)
- The nutrients are more easily absorbable.
TO THE MOTHER
- It helps in bonding
- It helps in child spacing
- Reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer endometrial cancer and breast cancers
- Helps in weight reduction.
- Faster involution of the uterus with a reduction in postpartum hemorrhage
- Personal satisfaction and fulfillment of motherhood.
- It saves time.
TO THE FAMILY AND COMMUNITY
- It saves cost.
- It is safe for the environment. No littering in terms of cans.
SOME COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BREASTMILK AND BREASTFEEDING
- Breast milk is not enough for the growing child.
- Breast size is small, and therefore milk output may be small.
- Colostrum is dirty milk and should not be given to the baby.
- The breast may sag as a result of breastfeeding
- Loss of sexual appeal.
- Loss of sexual activity during lactation.
- Working mothers introducing infant formula just to get the baby used to formula milk.
These misconceptions should not be used to deny the newborn breast milk and its benefits