World Breastfeeding Week is a global celebration held every year from 1st to 7th August in almost 120 countries. It aims to highlight the huge benefits that breastfeeding brings to the health and welfare of babies.
Breastfeeding provides a child with the best possible start in life. Packed with all the important nutrients breastmilk is the ideal food for children and protects the baby from several illnesses. It delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both mother and child.
Some breastfeeding tips that WHO and UNICEF recommend:
- Initiating breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth of the infant.
- 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.
ABC’S of breastfeeding
Awareness- This includes being alert and watching out for signs of the baby being hungry. It is also known as “on-demand” feeding. Infants give several signs to indicate that they are hungry and it is important to respond adeptly to these signs. While breastfeeding comes naturally to many women, some may need seek guidance and assistance. This may come from a nurse, doctors or family members who will help get over any roadblocks.
Be Patient- Infants usually breastfeed for 12-20 minutes on each breast. It is important to not rush through the feedings and nurse for however long
Comfort- A correct and comfortable posture aids in a steadier flow of milk. Using pillows to support the arms, head, and neck, and a footrest to support the feet and legs before one begins to breastfeed.
Signs that a baby is hungry
Crying is one of the most typical signs of an infant trying to communicate that they are hungry. Some other indicators are: (1)
- Clenching of hands
- Rooting: when the baby moves their mouth, jaw or head to look for the breast
- Licking their lips or sticking out their tongue
- Sucking on objects
- Puckering or smacking of lips
Benefits of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding provides a plethora of valuable benefits, both for the mother and the baby.
- It provides the ideal nutrition required for babies: In the first few days after birth, breasts produce a fluid called colostrum. It is thick and yellowish in colour and high in protein. It is loaded with beneficial compounds and known to be a ‘wonderfood’ for babies, one that cannot be replaced by formula. (2)
- It promotes a baby’s healthy weight: Breastfeeding encourages healthy weight growth in children and studies have also shown that it helps to avoid obesity. This is because babies who are fed breast milk possess more leptin in their system. Leptin is a key hormone that regulates fat accumulation and appetite. Another interesting fact is that breastfed babies learn to self-regulate their intake of milk. They become better at eating only till the point where their hunger is satiated and this subsequently helps inculcate healthier eating habits.
- It greatly reduces the risk of diseases: Breastmilk is abundant with antibodies. These antibodies help the baby ward off viruses and bacteria which is extremely critical especially in their early months. Colostrum also contains high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA). igA forms a protective layer in the infant’s throat, nose and digestive system and protects the baby from falling ill. Breastfeeding reduces the risks of allergic, bowel and respiratory diseases and also lowers the chances of childhood leukaemia. (2)
Breastfeeding offers health benefits to the mother too. It is known to burns calories and also helps in faster involution which means contraction of the uterus post delivery. Interestingly, studies have shown that women who lactate are less likely to get postpartum depression. (2)
Medical Considerations before breastfeeding
Breastfeeding may harm a baby in a few circumstances. The following are some situations in which one should not breastfeed:
- If one is HIV positive. Breast milk can aid in transmitting the virus from the mother to the infant.
- If the infant has galactosemia, a rare disease in which the infant finds natural sugar galactose found in breast milk is intolerable.
- If one is suffering from active, untreated tuberculosis
- If one is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer
- If prescribed drugs or medications for conditions like Parkinson’s disease, arthritis or migraines are being taken. (1)
Metoclopramide: A medication for breast milk production
Metoclopramide is a medication that is used for short-term treatment for heartburn, gastroparesis and other diseases. is known to promote lactation in mothers after preterm and post-term deliveries. Lactation is aided by antagonising dopamine release in the central nervous system, which raises prolactin levels, that in turn induces or augments the production of breast milk. Metoclopramide, like any other prescription drug, comes with its own side effects and precautionary measures. A doctor should be consulted with regard to its dosage and administration. (3)
While the benefits of breastfeeding are endless, at the end of the day it is a personal decision and should be made after careful and informed research.
Promising a healthier future
For over three decades now, Anzen Exports has been a trusted exporter and distributor in the pharmachem industry..The organization’s wide array of top-of-the-line products includes Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), herbal extracts, nutraceutical ingredients as well as cosmetic ingredients.It is our constant endeavour to inform our customers about various medical and health conditions, its causes and the treatments available for it
Anzen Export’s blog posts have been written with the information gathered from approved medical journals and websites online. Our research and technical team strive to provide relevant information through such articles. To be best informed, we advise consulting a doctor about an ingredient or medicine prior to taking it.