Breast Milk: The Ultimate Gift from You to Your Baby

World Breastfeeding Awareness Week, coordinated by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is celebrated every year from 1st to 7th August in more than 170 countries. Supported by WHO and UNICEF, it aims to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. This year the week focuses on global action to encourage women to take up breastfeeding in parallel with their work.

According to WHO, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months. If breastfeeding, in addition to intake of appropriate solid foods is continued for 24 months and beyond, it can provide important health benefits to both mother and child.

Why is breast milk important for your baby?

  1. It reduces the risk of gastrointestinal illness, allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, some childhood cancers, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and cot death.
  2. It supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
  3. It is easily digested and breast-fed babies are rarely constipated and less likely to get diarrhoea.
  4. It is the perfect food to promote healthy growth and development in babies.

How is feeding breast milk important to you?

  1. It reduces the risk of mothers with gestational diabetes developing Type 2 diabetes.
  2.  The risk of ailments such as osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, and pre-menopausal breast cancer is reduced.
  3. It assists the uterus return to its pre-pregnant state faster.

Some Useful Tips:

  • Breastfeed soon after birth and as frequently as 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period.
  • Hold your baby skin-to-skin.
  • Some newborns may need to be awakened every few hours to make sure they feed enough.
  • Do not give a pacifier or bottle until breastfeeding is well established..
  • Babies tend to swallow air along with their feed. Burp the baby, by supporting your baby’s head and back while gently patting the back with your other hand.

Breastfeeding is natural but not necessarily easy. It might seem like a lot to watch out for. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you need any support.

SOURCES:

  1. World Health Organization. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  2. Queensland Health. Accessed July 31, 2015.
  3. World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. Accessed July 30, 2015.
  4. New York State Department of Health. Accessed July 31, 2015.