Breastfeeding

 

Breastfeeding is one of the most important factors in a child’s growth and survival. Aside from the medical recommendation, it is believed by some people that breastfeeding is a special moment for the child and mother perhaps, breastfeeding should be added to the list of the world’s most amazing experiences. Individual views notwithstanding, the benefits and advantages of breastfeeding to the child and mother can never be inflated.


Breastfeeding is the act of feeding a child with human milk, this could be done directly from the breast, or breastmilk is bumped into a container to feed the child. Breast milk contains the ideal nutrient and formula needed for the healthy growth of a child. Breast milk is safe and clean for a child, in the words of Irena Chalmers, she said "There are three reasons for breastfeeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in an attractive container and the cat can’t get it."


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that every child be fed with only breast milk for the first 6 months of the child's birth. This is because breast milk contains antibodies that help the child fight diseases and infections. According to Tori Amos, “An ounce of breast milk is even more potent than the finest tequila". 


After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, it can be continued with other complementary food for up to 2 years. The longer the child breastfeeds, the safer he is from certain diseases and sicknesses.


Also, breastfeeding is of great benefit to the mother, in health and emotion. Hence, mothers are advised to breastfeed their babies for the recommended period because the longer the breastfeeding, the greater the benefits to her also.


The Benefit of Breastfeeding to the Child

• It reduces the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and child mortality: Children that are breastfed have a lower rate of SIDS and child mortality because of the antibodies contained in the breast milk. These antibodies help the child fight illness that leads to SIDS


• Stronger Immune System

Breastfeeding helps develop the IQ of a child. it has been observed that children who breastfeed are linked to higher IQ scores later in life.


• Breastfeeding reduces the child’s risk of Diarrhoea and vomiting, gastroenteritis, and Constipation. Also, the child will have a few cases of respiratory sickness and colds like whooping cough, Pneumonia.

 

• There are other illnesses breastfeeding protects the child from, they include ear infections, bacterial meningitis, obesity, and cardiovascular disease in the future.


• Breastfeeding helps soothe the child. Breast milk has substances that naturally soothe the child.


• Breastfeeding helps the baby bond with the mother and makes the child feel secure. Eye contact and physical closeness with the mother help in bonding.


The Benefit of Breastfeeding To  the Mother

• Breastfeeding lowers the rate of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and High blood pressure.

• It helps maintains the milk supply.

• It lowers postpartum bleeding and helps the uterus contract and return to its normal size.

• Breastfeeding lowers the rate of urinary tract infections and the chance of anemia.

• Breastfeeding produces oxytocin and prolactin in nursing mothers. These are soothing hormones that help to reduce stress and promote positive feelings.

• Breastfeeding supports the wellness of the mother (mind, body, and spirit) since the child is calm once breastfed. Breastfed babies cry less.


Medical Consideration for Breastfeeding

Although breasting feeding is one of the best things to happen to a child and mother, there are certain conditions where breastfeeding cannot take place. 

These conditions include;

• If the mother is HIV Positive. When a mother is positive for HIV, she could pass it on to the child via breastfeeding. It is medically advised that HIV Positive mothers should not breastfeed their children.


• When the child has galactosemia or maple syrup urine disease. Galactosemia is a rare condition where the body cannot use simple sugar (Galactose) and this sugar is contained in breast milk.

Maple Syrup Urine disease is a condition where the body cannot process certain Amino Acids.


• When the mother has untreated tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a communicable disease and when a mother with tuberculosis breastfeeds a child, she could infect the child with it.


• When the mother is undergoing cancer chemotherapy.


Other medical conditions require temporal avoidance of breastfeeding or a limited period of breastfeeding with complementary food.

Whatever the condition or the medical reason for advising the avoidance of breastfeeding permanently or temporarily, it is advised the medical consideration be obeyed. 

Also, ensure the bottles and other utensils for the child’s complementary food (other food options) are as safe as possible.


Breastfeeding Myths

There are lots of stories about breastfeeding- some good, others ugly and scary that would make you dread breastfeeding. It is important to note that there are a lot of misconceptions about breastfeeding and when checked properly, most of the stories turn out to be a myth. There are some common myths about breastfeeding.


• Breastfeeding always hurts: Some people experience pain in the nipple while trying to figure out breastfeeding but, this doesn’t mean the pain is normal for everyone. When the child is well positioned, it would not hurt. There might be little inconveniences the child first sucks, but it subsides within seconds.


• You would not have enough milk to feed your child if your breast is small: Your breast size does not matter when it comes to breastfeeding and does not contribute to the milk supply.


• Breastfeeding causes breast sagging: This is not correct, research has it that weight fluctuation and hormonal changes in pregnancy is responsible for saggy breast not breastfeeding.


• A child automatically knows how to breastfeed at birth: No, a child does not know how to breastfeed at birth. It is a process both mother and child need to go through together. Although a child is born with infant reflexes like sucking reflex and rooting reflex that can help in breastfeeding.


• A Mother needs to take milk to produce milk: A mother's milk production is not tied to milk consumption, hence a mother can produce milk even if she does not take milk. Although it is important to drink enough water while breastfeeding.


There are other myths about breasting not mentioned here. Whenever you get advice or a breastfeeding story, check it to know how true it is.


Pamela K. Wiggins said breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth. When you think about it carefully, you might agree with the word she used in describing breastfeeding because that is what breastfeeding is - A GIFT.


If you are privileged to have this gift- treasure it. It might not be the ‘all smooth’ journey but it is worth it so, do it wholeheartedly and enjoy the process.

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