Breast feeding is like a boon given by God to both mother and baby. Exclusive breast feeding is recommended for first 6 months of a baby’s life. And then as part of their daily weaning diet until 1- 1.5 year. It has many advantages over formula milk.
It is the healthiest option for both mother and baby. The breast milk produced during first few days after birth is called COLOSTRUM which is highly rich in antibodies and thus helps to fight against many diseases and protect the new born from various infections not only during infancy but through out the life. It help to build up the child’s immune system.
The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six month of life.
BENEFITS OF BREAST MILK:
- It has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, vitamins and minerals required for baby’s growth and development.
- Breast milk consists of lactose, protein (whey and casein) and fat which are easily digestible by a new-born and reduce risk of infectious diseases such as gastroenteritis -diarrhea, constipation and respiratory infections, etc.
- Breastfed babies are have a stronger immune system as compared to their formula fed counterparts through out the life. This is because the first milk colostrum and breast milk are both capable of enhancing a child’s immunity by providing many antibodies.
- Breastfeed helps babies to be introduced to different tastes through their mothers, as breast milk has different flavors depending on what the mother has eaten. By tasting the foods of their “culture,” breastfed infants more easily accept solid foods.
- It doesn’t cost a single penny and easily available.
- It is always at optimum temperature required to feed the baby. No need to warm or heat.
- It helps in forming emotional and physical bond between mother and baby.
It triggers the release of hormone, oxytocin that causes uterus to return to its normal size more quickly.
- It helps to lose the extra weight of mother, gained during pregnancy.
- It reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers.
- It reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) during first year of baby’s life.
NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENT DURING BREASTFEEDING:
- A feeding mother needs 500-650 extra calories a day to make breast milk for her baby.
- A feeding mother should take diet rich in protein, calcium, vitamin A, iron, folic acid, vitamin C and B-group vitamins.
- Intake of fluids should be increased, as fluids are essential for adequate milk production.
Mostly highly spiced and strongly flavored foods and high unwanted calories should be avoided.
Lactating mother should keep a watch on their weight and avoid unnecessary binge eating.
Preparations having ajawain, methi seeds, saunth, til seeds, cumin seeds (jeera) are recommended during lactation for mothers as these help in improving milk production.
COMPARISON OF BREAST FEEDING AND FORMULA MILK
- Breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed infants.
- Formula milk is costly whereas breast milk is free of cost.
- Formula milk has chances of infection whereas breast milk helps to prevent infection.
- Formula milk is less digestible than breast milk.
- Formula milk is not easily available as compared to breast milk.
- Formula milk is not as rich in nutrients as breast milk.
Breast feeding helps in maintaining good nutritional status of both mother and baby.
Weaning should start at after 6 months with a proper diet and feeding pattern.