Mother's Milk - The Liquid Gold!
World Breastfeeding Week: August 17
Every year the first week of August is celebrated as World Breastfeeding Week. Organizations like World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), WHO and UNICEF came together and introduced the “World Breastfeeding Week” in 1992 to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a newborn must be strictly breastfed only, from the time of birth until 6 months. From six months up to one year, other solid foods can be introduced along with breastfeeding. World Health Organization recommends that breastfeeding to continue for another two years.
Mother’s milk takes care of all the baby’s requirements for the first six months. From the 7th month onwards up to one year, breastfeeding takes care of 50% of the baby’s requirements. From one to two years of the baby, breastfeeding takes care of 30% of the baby’s requirements.
Also Read: The benefits and importance of Breast Feeding
World health Organization recommends that breastfeeding begins within one hour of the baby’s birth. However, in reality, only three out of five children are breastfed within one hour of birth.
The benefits of breastfeeding cannot be listed in a few lines. Mother’s milk can be termed ‘Liquid Gold’. It contains antibodies and vitamins that a baby needs. So, with breast milk a baby receives all the nutrients in the right measure, within the first 6 months of birth.
Within 1-2 days of the baby’s birth, colostrum is secreted, which is rich in protein and contains less sugar. It is also called ‘Wonder food’. No ‘formula milk’ can match this wonderful fluid. This wonder fluid greatly helps in the growth of the baby’s organs (intestine, digestive tract and head).
Following the growth of the digestive tract, the mother starts producing more breast milk, and the baby receives the nourishment (milk) it needs from the mother. However mother’s milk lacks Vitamin D, which is why doctors prescribe Vitamin D syrup for babies from three months up to six months.
Also Read: Why you should breastfeed your baby
Mother’s milk contains antibodies which work against various viral infections. This helps build the babies’ immunity to fight infections. Also colostrum contains plenty of IgA immunoglobulin (a protein antibody).
When the mother has fever or an infection, her body produces antibodies. These antibodies are passed on to the baby through mother’s milk, so the baby’s immunity increases further. IgA offers protection against digestive tract infections in the baby, and antibodies and IgA is something no formula milk can provide.
Mother’s milk also provides protection against ear, intestine and lung diseases and infection. It also reduces chances of occurrence of allergies and diabetes. Some research results also indicate that mother’s milk offers protection against certain types of blood cancer.
Babies feeding on breast milk are able to maintain correct weight. This also prevents childhood obesity. How is this possible?
Babies feeding on breast milk produce the hormone leptin in appropriate measure. The primary function of leptin is to regulate long-term energy balance in the body by regulating the food intake and production of energy. Leptin helps control hunger and regulate energy balance. This is why we do not feel hungry when we do not need more energy. This helps control body weight.
It is proven that breastfed babies are smarter and have higher IQ compared to formula-fed babies.
Also Read: Breast Feeding- The Best Diet for Your Baby!
Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for the baby, it is good for the mother as well. It helps her reduce body weight gained during pregnancy and regain her appearance post childbirth.
Nursing mothers produce more oxytocin hormone, which helps the uterus shrink and restore to its original size. Breastfeeding also strengthens the bond between the mother and the baby, and helps prevent stress and depression in mothers, thereby offering protection against heart diseases.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of diabetes, and breast and uterine cancer in the nursing mother.
And, do you know the most important feature of mother’s milk?
The wonder food called Mother’s milk is easily available, costs nothing and is an instant food that does not need to be prepared in your kitchen. We must be aware and remember that breastfeeding is beneficial to both the mother and baby, and this elixir called Mother’s milk keeps both the mother and baby healthy for life!
Dr. K. Brindha, MBBS, DRCOG (London), MRCOG (London)
Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur, Salem and Bengaluru, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.
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- Feb 16, 2023