Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding provides the infant with essential nutrition that is ideal for growth. Alexander (2013) notes that breast milk has a perfect formula of vitamins, fats, and proteins, which are provided in a form that that is easily digestible compared to other infant formula. He also highlighted that the milk contains antibodies that are essential in boosting the immune of the baby, thus making the infant to easily fight disease-causing microorganisms (Brown et al. 2013).
A study by Alexander (2013) reveals that it is important for lactating mothers to feed their babies on breast milk for up to six months. This is because consistency in feeding the infant on breast milk tends to lower the babies risk of contracting diseases like asthma or allergies. A baby who is properly breastfeed develops resistance to respiratory related infections, and reports low hospitalization records.
Research by Stuat and Dettywyler (2010) highly links breastfeeding to a Childs intelligent Quotient in later childhood, a factor that dictates his/her academic excellence. Furthermore, breastfeeding provides an ample opportunity for the mother and the infant to bond. This is because the physical contact between the baby and the infant makes the child feel secure. The child is likely to gain more weight, and lead to a reduction in sudden death syndrome condition among infants.
Other than development of a cordial relationship between the infant and the mother, breastfeeding helps the mother in burning extra calories gained during pregnancy. Lactation also enhances the release of oxytocine hormone from the blood stream, which is fundamental in helping the uterus to return to its normal size while at the same time reducing bleeding after pathuration. The mothers who breastfeed their babies adequately have lower prevalence of breast and ovarian cancer, a fact that has made the state and international health organizations to launch campaigns that encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies.
World health Organization together with UNICEF launched initiatives that are geared towards promoting and sustaining exclusive breastfeeding among lactating mothers for six months after delivery. The program recommends that mothers should feed their babies on breast milk within the first four hours of delivery to enable the child have access to colostrums. This agency also sensitizes mothers to adopt exclusive breastfeeding principles, which require mothers to exclusively feed their babies on breast milk for six months without any additional food or drinks. Exclusive breastfeeding also encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies on demand regardless of the time of the day, and it discourages the use of bottles and teats in feeding the baby (Smith 2010).
According to WHO, breastfeeding provides all the nutrients and energy that the child requires in the first month of delivery. Breastfeeding provides half of the child’s body needs in the second half of the first year. Nutritional support of the breast milk subsequently reduces to a third during the second year, as the child is strong and is able to supplement the milk with other foodstuff.
Breastfeeding is a learned natural behavior, which is, acquired though apprenticeship. Young mothers learn the importance of the noble act through observation. There is a need to establish and sustain appropriate breast feeding practices among caregivers and mothers through provision of incentives to those people who breastfeed their babies adequately.
In supporting healthy breastfeeding habits, UNICEF together with WHO launched a strategy dabbed Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative in strengthening the habit of feeding babies exclusively on breast milk though the foundation of BFHI. The two organizations according to Smith (2010) laid down principles that are fundamental in promoting, protecting, and supporting of positive breastfeeding habits. The BFHI initiative has spread its wings to over 171 countries in 16,000 hospitals across the world, and is a movement that prides itself for being a special project of its kind in the world that has registered positive outcomes in reducing infant mortality index.
WHO has also committed a considerable amount of funds to help in training and counseling certain cadre of health givers in 40-hour breastfeeding lessons. This helps breastfeeding mothers overcome problems related to feeding of young infants and provision of adequate support and care to those mothers who are infected with HIV/Aids in ensuring that they do not transfer infections to their infants through breast milk.
The ten step policies initiated by UNICEF and WHO include establishment of breastfeeding policies that should be routinely communicated to all heath care givers and must be visibly posted where they can be easily accessed by lactating mothers in a language that is understood by the locals. Training of health caregivers in skills on how to effectively implement the policy. It is imperative to make expectant mothers conscious of the need to breastfeed and how to manage herself during lactation. WHO also recommends that nurses should help mothers to initiate the breastfeeding process within the first hour, as they are always weak. The initiative also encourages health care staff to train mothers how to breastfeed and encourage them not to feed infants on any food unless it is medically approved by the health practitioner. Another recommendation is for health facilities to promote rooming where the mother and the infant are given a chance to stay intact for 24 hours while breastfeeding the baby on demand. Lastly, the foundation encourages formation of breastfeeding support groups that helps in cultivating the culture among its members while at the same time discouraging the use of artificial teats (Alexander 2013)
According to Schanler and Krebs (2013), an infant feeding survey, which is conducted every five years, has indicated that the proportion of those mothers feeding their children on breast milk raised to an average of 80, a figure which is higher compared to any European country. A high breastfeeding index was recorded among a population of mothers who are over 30 years and those who have less education.
Although both the breast milk and formula milk provides nutrients to the baby, the two are different in such a way that formula milk is derived from the cow. During digestion, the curd formed is hard compared to that of the breast milk, thus making breastfeeding the best option in feeding the baby. Despite the fact that formula milk looks creamer than breast milk, Smith (2010) argues that breast milk in richer in nutrients concentration unlike formula milk since it contain right quantities of nutrients that are essential for the child’s growth.
Alexander, W., 2013.New dimension in women’s health. London: Jones & Bartlett publisher.
Brown, J., Janet, I., Bea, K., Ellen, L. and Murtaug, M., 2013.Nutrition through the life cycle. London: engage learning.
Schanler, R, & Krebs, N., (2013. Breastfeeding handbook for physicians, 2nd edition. New York: American academy pediatrics.
Smith, L., 2010. Impact of birthing practices on breastfeeding. London: Jones & Bartlet Publisher.
Stuat, P., & Dettwyler, K., 2010.Breastfeeding: Bicultural perspectives. Chicago: Transaction Publishers.