The Theme of the World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”. In line with this theme, we need to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling which is a crucial component of breastfeeding support. WHO recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for at least 6 months after delivery.
Breastfeeding not only benefits the baby but also has various advantages for the Mother and the Society as a whole. Some of the salient features are as listed below:
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Your Baby
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat which is everything the baby needs to grow as a strong healthy adult. These nutrients are provided in a form that is more easily digested than infant formula.
Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any artificial formula feeds have lesser respiratory illnesses, diarrhoea and ear infections. They also have fewer hospitalizations and rarely need medications.
Breast milk contains antibodies such as Immunoglobulins (IgA), Lactoferrin, Antiviral factors that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding reduces your baby's risk of having allergies or asthma.
The physical closeness, eye contact and skin-to-skin touch will help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed babies are more likely to gain the appropriate weight as they grow rather than become overweight children.
Breastfeeding is linked to greater IQ rates in later childhood in some studies.
Breastfeeding plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It's been thought to lower the risk of diabetes and childhood obesity.
Breastfeeding is convenient and needs no preparation and is readily available at the right temperature. The act of breastfeeding burns extra calories, helps the mother lose weight gained in pregnancy faster.
Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps the post-delivery uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and helps reduce uterine bleeding after birth. This, in turn, prevents blood loss and anemia in the mother.
Breastfeeding is also known to lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding helps in delaying another pregnancy by providing a natural form of contraception for the mother.
Breastfeeding Benefits For The Community
Breastfeeding is convenient, saves money and it benefits the whole society by reducing health care costs. It is due to a reduced risk of infections and diseases hence reduced hospital visits.
It promotes family planning and exclusive breastfeeding delays the next pregnancy.
The health of the mother and baby will benefit and it helps in reducing sick days at work and school hence raising the contribution to the economy.
Covid-19 And Breastfeeding
As per WHO, a woman with COVID-19 should be supported to breastfeed safely, hold her newborn skin to skin and share a room with her baby. The baby who has already been exposed to the coronavirus by the mother will benefit most from direct continued breastfeeding. This is because breast milk provides protection against many illnesses and strengthens the baby's immune function.