Breastfeeding is best for your baby, as the breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants and it’s good for your health, too. In August 2017, Bollywood actor Lisa Haydon posted a picture of her breastfeeding her infant son on Instagram, and captioned it with a hard-hitting message- “I’ve gotten loads of posts asking about life after having my son… esp. to do with weight and fitness…Breastfeeding has played such a big part in getting back into shape after giving birth to my baby.”
The benefits of breastfeeding are not unknown. According to WHO, ‘breastfeeding were scaled up to near universal levels, about 820 000 child lives would be saved every year. Globally, only 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed.’
Jivanta Children’s Hospital in Udaipur has now come up with a video showcasing various benefits of breastfeeding for mothers as well infants. “We are trying to make people aware about its health benefits through such videos. The idea is to educate women on how healthy the mother’s milk is for the infant. And also, to explain to them that breastfeeding is equally healthy for them,” said Dr Sunil Janged, Chief Neonatologist at Jivanta Children’s Hospital.
There are studies which reveal that breastfeeding has a host of health benefits for mothers too. Breastfeeding mothers have reduced risk of developing breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, type-2 diabetes and several cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.
“Breastfeeding helps to burn calories faster causing the pregnancy weight to shed faster. Importantly, not many are aware that, the longer you breastfeed your baby, lesser are the chances of developing breast cancer,” said Dr Vandana Gawdi, Senior Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi.
She added, “It also aids in natural contraception, your period is less likely to return when you are breast feeding so you naturally protect yourself longer. This only goes to prove that the emotional, physical and mental well-being of mother and child is the biggest reason to breastfeed.”
Many mothers are often worried about how long the breastfeeding should be continued after giving birth to the child- to which Dr Janged replied, “Exclusive breastfeeding till first 6 months is what we recommend. Then, continue breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age.”
Some known benefits of breastfeeding:
- Breast milk gives ideal nutrition to your baby as it contains right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins.
- Breast milk contains vital antibodies which are rarely found anywhere.
- These antibodies help prevent several diseases and also help ward off development of many allergies.
- Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.
- Breastfeeding helps prevent weak bones later in life and this risk is four times higher in non-breastfeeding women.
- Breastfeeding women recover more quickly and easily from the childbirth.
- Hormones, like oxytocin, helps uterus to return to its normal state more quickly and also reduces post-partum bleeding.