According to World Health Organization (WHO), infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. To help bring attention to World Breastfeeding Week 2017, it is imperative to increase public awareness about the wide range of health benefits associated with the breastfeeding for both the babies and their mothers.
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Long-term Health Benefits
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants and protects them against diarrhoea, and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, among many others. Breastfeeding contributes to long-term health benefits for the mother and their child, such as reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence, reducing risk of developing allergies, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among many others. It has also been associated with higher intelligence quotient (IQ) in children. For mothers, it subsequently reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Breastfeeding-related medical issues
Breastfeeding is not really easy as many breastfeeding mothers might encounter many breastfeeding-related medical issues. The most common problems majorly include sore or cracked nipples which can sometimes turn into an infection in the breast tissue called mastitis; pink nipples and shooting pains in breasts, which are general symptoms of thrush, an infection with a yeast organism called candida albicans; and incorrect baby’s latch which even hurts, among others. However, these problems can be effectively treated and there are experts who can help you out through their professional guidance.
For example, Sore or cracked nipples can be helped by trying to improve how the baby latches on to the breast as an incorrect latch is often the cause sore nipples. It can be treated by protecting the nipple area when not feeding using nipple pads or soft cotton bras, and also by applying Vaseline. On the other hand, Mastitis can be treated either by taking proper rest or by the help of a general practitioner (GP) or midwife using antibiotics.
Breast milk contains nutritional value and antibodies
Breast milk is considered to be the best source of infant nutrition. Breast-fed infants gain extra protection from antibodies, especially from IgA antibodies which protect the internal surfaces of the body, such as the mouth, stomach, intestines and lungs. The mother’s milk contains various proteins, fats, sugars and cells such as antibodies, white blood cells, lactoferrin, lysozyme, oligosaccharides, probotics and prebiotics that help the baby develop a more efficient immune system. Moreover, it is easier for babies to digest breast-fed milk.
Research shows that the risk of developing Celiac disease lowers by 63% for children who are breast-fed for more than 2 months as compared with children breast-fed for 2 months or even less.
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Break the myths
In order to support this cause, breaking the myths associated with breastfeeding is very important. While, breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon, it needs a bit of practice initially for new moms. It gives them a sense of comfort to feed their child safely and properly. There are various medical centers across the country that can provide professional advice on breastfeeding and lactation. In addition, it is not a perfect method of birth control.
There is nothing wrong to consult a doctor, if a woman is suffering from breastfeeding-related medical problems or pain for a long time.
There are number of factors that make breastfeeding a key contributor to the survival, health and well-being of infants and mothers. However, the most obvious and promising benefit to breastfeeding for new mothers is that it helps them create physical as well as emotional bond with their baby, that matters a lot.