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Breastfeeding is feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast. Breastfeeding is recommended to begin within the first hour of life and after that allow it as the baby wishes. During the first few weeks of life babies may nurse eight to twelve times a day (every two to three hours). The duration of a feeding is usually ten to fifteen minutes on each breast. The frequency of feeding decreases as the child gets older.Some mothers pump milk so that it can be used later when their child is being cared for by others.

Breastfeeding is recommended against Infant formula which do not have many of the benefits. World Health Organization (WHO) supports six months of just breastfeeding (exclusive breastfeeding). This means that no other foods or drinks other than vitamin D are typically given. Continued partial breastfeeding until at least a year of age is also recommended. Globally about 38% of infants are just breastfeed during their first six months of life. Adherence to this varies from country to country.

Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for newborns.  It has the potential to significantly help avert under-five deaths.  It is therefore important that we protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding of newborns. Experts opine that “Regardless of the socio-economic status, it is instrumental to enable women to successfully breastfeed exclusively for six months and continue breastfeeding with age-appropriate complementary feeds up to two years and beyond.” breastfeeding could save hundreds of thousands of the three million children under five who die annually. It reduces the incidence and severity of infectious diseases, thereby lowering infant morbidity and mortality.

Beyond providing physical warmth and reinforcing the immune system, it also contributes to the women’s health and provides social and economic benefits. Breast milk is easier to digest and better tolerated by the premature baby than infant formula or any other. Proteins in human milk are more completely broken down and better absorbed. Tube feeding tends to be established earlier and with fewer problems. Breast milk contains lipase which helps baby digest milk fat more efficiently.

Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.

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Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. What’s more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. Research also shows that breastfed babies have a better antibody response to vaccines than formula-fed babies.

Carole Anderson Lucia (contributing editor in Fallbrook, Calif.) in her essay “20 Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom and Baby” wrote that “the incidences of pneumonia, colds and viruses are reduced among breastfed babies. Citing infant-nutrition expert Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and OB-GYN at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y., and the author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession (Elsevier-Mosby) she wrote that gastrointestinal infections like diarrhea—which can be devastating, especially in developing countries—are also less common. She explained further: “According to Lawrence, women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. When a woman is pregnant and lactating, her body absorbs calcium much more efficiently. So while some bones, particularly those in the spine and hips, may be a bit less dense at weaning, six months later, they are denser than before pregnancy”

Breastfeeding is also very beneficial to the mother. Breastfeeding helps in bonding mother and child. Breastfeeding helps the mother heal after delivery and helps her burn extra calories thereby helping her lose pregnancy weight faster. Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps new mum’s uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer and may lower the risk of osteoporosis in new mums. Breastfeeding saves money and time. “Since the new mum doesn’t have to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples, or warm bottles, breastfeeding saves her time and money. It also gives her regular time to relax quietly with your newborn as she bonds with the baby.

Nowchild Blog endorses Exclusive Breastfeeding.

 

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Breastfeeding is feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman's breast. Breastfeeding is recommended to begin within the first hour of life and after that allow it as the baby wishes. During the first few weeks of life babies may nurse eight to twelve times a...