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Benefits of breast feeding

The topic covers the importance of breast feeding and its associated advantages.

Breast milk is far more than a source of nutrition. It promotes the health and well-being of both mother and baby. It is best to keep the infant on a strict diet of only breast milk for the first six months of his/ her life, because

  • breast feeding protects against gastrointestinal problems and it is easier to digest and will not cause constipation. It is also known to boost a baby's gastrointestinal immunity.
  • breast feeding protects against asthma and ear infections. This is because it creates a protective layer upon the membranes of a baby's nose and throat.
  • cows' milk can cause some babies to react with severe allergies. Breastmilk, in contrast, is 100 percent safe.
  • research has shown that breast fed babies are less likely to suffer from obesity in later age. This is probably because they can feed for as long as their appetites demand and are less likely to gain excess weight right from the start.
  • breast feeding has been linked to the prevention of childhood leukemia, Type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure later in life.
  • breast feeding is believed to boost a child's intelligence, in part because of the emotional bonding that takes place between mother and baby, and in part because it contains several fatty acids that contribute to the development of an infant's brain.
  • breast feeding is convenient, cost-free (as compared to expensive formula, feeding bottles and other baby paraphernalia required for top feeds) and best of all, helps a mother bond with her child emotionally, the physical contact is also a source of comfort to infants.

When to start breast feeding to the child?

Breast feeding should be started immediately after the baby is born. The naked baby (after he is gently mopped and dried) should be held by the mother, close to her breast, for skin-to-skin contact. The baby should breastfeed at least eight times daily, day and night, and on demand. It stimulates the smooth flow of milk and keeps the baby warm. It also helps create an emotional bond between the mother and the child.

Why to start breast feeding early?

There are four primary reasons:

  1. The baby is most active in first 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. The sucking reflex is most active at that time.
  3. An early start ensures a greater chance of success at breastfeeding. Colostrum, which is the first yellowish secretion from the breast, is full of substances that protect the baby from getting an infection; it's almost like a vaccine.
  4. It helps prevent breast swelling and pain and reduces post-delivery bleeding in the mother.

How long should a child be on breastfeed?

Exclusively for the first six months and continue breastfeeding well upto two years or beyond.

How long should a child be on breastfeed?

Exclusively for the first six months and continue breastfeeding well up to two years or beyond.

Leaks from the breast after feeding the baby. What should be done?

It is a temporary problem and quite normal. If you notice the milk is leaking, press your elbows firmly against the outer margins of your breasts. This will slow down the flow

Can a mother breastfeed a baby even when she is sick?

Yes. Most of the diseases do not affect the baby. Even typhoid, malaria, tuberculosis, jaundice or leprosy don't call for stopping breastfeeding.

Related Resources

  1. Facts for life - Breastfeeding
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Astrid Mar 11, 2015 10:43 PM

Aaaaaaaawesome! This is a great resource. How can we get the word out about this? And so happy it is available in all these beautiful languages as well! // A very happy lactation consultant

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