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Breast Milk Is Infant's First Vaccine: Our Expert Elaborates On Breastfeeding Benefits For Mother And Baby

Breastfeeding is a blessing for both mother and the baby. It required for optimum nutrition of the baby for the first six months, and reduces the risk of cancer in mother. Dr Deepika Sood elaborates more on the benefits.

Breast Milk Is Infants First Vaccine: Our Expert Elaborates On Breastfeeding Benefits For Mother And Baby

Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain in babies

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Colostrum is the first milk which is produced by a new mother
  2. It is thick and rich in protein
  3. It is full of antibodies that act as an immunity booster for the baby

Breast milk is nature's best food for the baby. It contains the right balance of nutrients for the baby. It helps in building immunity and reducing health risks later in life. It is also very beneficial for the mums as it lowers the risk of health conditions such as breast cancer and assists in losing pregnancy weight. Hence, it is often referred to as liquid gold. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recommend that breastfeeding should be initiated within the first hour of a child's birth and the child should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the child


Breast milk is the infant's first vaccine. Colostrum is the first milk which is produced by a new mother. It is thick, rich in protein and full of beneficial substances for the baby's growth. It is full of antibodies that act as an immunity booster for the baby helping them fight off viruses and bacteria. Colostrum is considered a balanced natural diet for infants packed with concentrated protein which is much higher than other forms of milk. It also contains the required growth factors which promotes the formation of a healthy gut and is proven to be an elixir of life.

Also read: Essential Foods For Lactating Mothers To Ensure Optimum Nutrient Intake

Breast milk also provides the right amount of nutrients and fluids that any infant requires, in just the right proportion. The nutrients packed in breast milk are easily absorbed by an infants' gastrointestinal tract and provide the child immediate and long-term protection from allergies.

Colostrum also provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as several other antibodies which protects the baby from getting sick by forming a protective layer in the baby's nose, throat, and the digestive system.

Breast milk not only has immediate help benefits for the baby, but also helps the baby grow into a healthier adult, by reducing the risk of a number of diseases. Studies have shown that adults who were breastfeed during their childhood have fewer health problems such as diabetes, asthma, allergies, skin problems, lymphoma, as well as a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. In fact, studies show, that breast milk not only reduces the risk but also reduces the severity of these diseases. Hence, benefits last through to adulthood as well.

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Breastfeeding helps the baby grow in a healthier adult
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: What Is The Concept Of Golden Hour After Birth? Know Benefits Of Breastfeeding In The Golden Hour

Another important benefit is that breast milk not only promotes healthy weight gain but is also known to prevent childhood obesity. Some studies also show strong linkages to brain development in children. This is especially true for preterm or premature babies. It is also accepted that breastfed children are less likely to develop behavioral and learning problems as they grow older.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother

Breastfeeding is equally beneficial for mothers as it reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes. It is also known to help in losing the wight a woman may have gained during pregnancy. When a mother breastfeeds, it causes the body to release oxytocin, a calming chemical which helps the uterus contract to its normal size post-delivery. Breastfeeding is also good for the mother's heart as it lowers 20 to 30 percent risk for hypertension and heart disease if the woman breastfeeds for at least four months.

The release of Oxytocin also helps in bonding between the mother and the baby, caregiving and relaxation. Studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop postpartum depression. Oxytocin has also shown long-term anti-anxiety effects.

Also read: The Relationship Between Your Mental And Physical Health: Tips To Boost Mental Health With Exercise


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(Dr Deepika Sood, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon)

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