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Wondering if you should breastfeed or not? Want a push to make that decision? Here is all the info you need as a new mom.
Motherhood is an emotion in itself, and gives birth to a mother just like a mother gives birth to a child. The bond between a mother and child remains special, and there is always something to cherish about it.
Breast milk is considered to be the best for your child and hence every year right from 1st August till 7th August World Breastfeeding Day is celebrated to encourage breast feeding and in order to improve the health of babies around the world.
This year the WHO and UNICEF along with other partners have joined hands to promote the importance of family friendly policies in order to enable breast feeding and help parents in nurturing and bonding with their child during his/her early days when it is of utmost importance.
This includes maternity (for 18 weeks at least) as well as paternity leaves so that parents can take up a joint responsibility of taking care of their child on equal basis. Apart from this mothers also need access to parent friendly workplaces to protect and support breastfeeding upon returning to work post the maternity leave. This can be done by giving them breastfeeding breaks, and a safe, private and hygienic place to express and store breast milk, along with affordable childcare.
It has been reported that breast feeding alone can save 8, 00000 lives globally, especially those of children below 6 months of age. All the more it could avert 20,000 maternal deaths every year which typically happen due to breast cancer.
Hence here is why breast feeding is so important for a mother as well as a child.
Studies say that one must breastfeed a baby for 6 months exclusively, the early part of which carries colostrum, a thick and yellowish fluid secreted within the first few days of birth and it is low in sugar, high in protein and other beneficial compounds.
The colostrum or first milk is rich in antibodies, especially immunoglobulin A (IgA) and other antibodies. These antibodies received through the breast milk can protect your child against bacteria and viruses.
Breast milk can reduce the risk of diseases or infections like-
Breast fed babies are at a less risk of obesity. Breast milk has more leptin (a hormone which inhibits hunger and provides a feeling of satiety).
Breastfeeding mothers are more likely to lose the pregnancy weight as compared to mothers who are unable to breast feed. In the initial months a mother might gain weight but post 3 months a breast fed mother begins to lose weight.
This is since there is an increase in the fat burning capacity. In addition, a healthy diet and exercise definitely play an important role.
During pregnancy the uterus expands in order to accommodate the growing fetus. Post pregnancy the uterus needs to contract to close the open blood vessels in its wall, and also to go back to its original size.
The high levels of oxytocin during breast feeding can help in contraction of the uterus and also reduce the blood loss post delivery.
Post partum depression is a common phenomenon seen in women once they have given birth to a child, seen in about 15% of the women.
Breast feeding can reduce the chances of post-partum depression in mothers as the oxytocin, called the ‘feel good hormone’ increased during breast-feeding, encourages care-giving, relaxation and bonding between mother and child – which in turn can make the mother feel better.
There is a clear correlation between breastfeeding and preventing breast cancer, but studies also show that women who breast feed are less likely to suffer from metabolic disease, heart disease, ovarian disease, type 2 Diabetes and several other diseases. Hence breast feeding is great for a mother.
At times breast feeding can pause menstruation and ovulation, which could nature’s way to tell you that there is a long time still for another pregnancy. It is not, however very effective as a birth control method.
The best part about breast feeding is that it is free and requires little effort. So typically you don’t have to worry about mixing formula milk, sterilizing the bottle, calculating the daily nutritional needs and so on.
Breast milk is also at the right temperature and also ready to drink. No boiling, no mixing, no cooling required.
Breast feeding is an amazing way of sitting down, relaxing and bonding with your little one. Your little one can feel the warmth and love you have for them, and recognizes your touch well. It is the best time to develop a precious bond with your newborn.
Hence breast feeding can be a boon to both the mother as well as the child.
Image source: shutterstock
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A Nutritionist,Clinical Dietitian,Speaker,health/fitness blogger who runs a nutrition website named NutriBond
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