Breastfeeding is universal, easily initiated and carried out without efforts by all mothers. Breast milk is the natural food of each and every species of mammals. Nature starts preparation for the young long before it is born. The preparation is complete just before birth and the milk comes out when the baby suckles it. Breast milk is the single adequate food provided by the nature till the baby is able to chew and eat semi solid food which corresponds to about six months of age.
Breastfeeding is the feeding of an infant or young child who is in the early stage of life (i.e. the period of rapid growth) with breast milk directly from human breasts rather than from a baby bottle or other container i.e. via lactation. Babies have a sucking reflex that enables them to suck and swallow milk. Mothers can breastfeed for six months or more without the addition of infant formula or solid food.
Breastfeeding is the optimum way of providing ideal and nourishing food to infants for their healthy growth and development. Breast milk gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy and adequate growth and their holistic physical and mental development. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses. Breast milk has been found to provide the ideal balance of nutrients for optimal growth and development, and it is easily digestible by the baby. This is because the breasts produce colostrums, which is a thick, yellowish fluid that helps a newborn’s digestive system develop and function properly. Many common childhood illnesses can also be prevented by nursing as breast milk contains antibodies that pass from the mother to the baby for protection. This is called natural immunity. Some of the common ailments that are decreased include bacterial meningitis, diarrhea, ear infections, and respiratory tract infections.
Other, more severe conditions, such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and childhood leukemia, have been confirmed by research to have a reduced risk of development in babies who have been breastfed. For premature infants, human milk significantly shortens the duration of their hospital stay, hastens brainstem maturation, and reduces the risk of life-threatening diseases. A mother’s breast milk is unique in both its composition and function, and cannot currently be reproduced by other manmade substance.
Human milk provides optimal benefits for infants, including premature and sick newborns. Human milk is unique. Superior nutrients and beneficial substances found in human milk cannot be duplicated. Breastfeeding provides optimum health, nutritional, immunologic and developmental benefits to newborns as well as protection from postpartum complications and future disease for mothers.
Exclusive breastfeeding means the child receives no liquids or solids other than breast milk, except vitamins, mineral supplements, or medicines for the first six months. Partial breastfeeding means the child receives some breast milk, regardless of how much. Breast milk provides all nutrients in correct amount to satisfy hunger and thirst of infant up to 6 months of age. Exclusive breastfeeding results in less number of diarrhoea among infants. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasize the value of breastfeeding for mothers as well as children. Both recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and then supplemented breastfeeding for at least one year and up to two years or more. According to World Health Organization (WHO), breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. WHO also said that exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as...