It is a well-known fact that breastfeeding is essential for a newborn baby and that the mother’s milk is the best source of nutrition, aiding in sturdy growth and development of the child. It is not for nothing that we say that ‘Breast milk is the Best milk’.
However, what many of us do not realise is that breastfeeding also has tremendous importance on the health and well-being of the mother.
It is very important for a new mom to successfully initiate and then maintain breastfeeding her child. Studies say that in case of a normal vaginal birth, latching on should be initiated as early as possible which is within the first few minutes of birth.
The skin to skin contact, after a long painful labour, instills a sense of calmness and provides comfort that aids in the well-being of the mother. It also calms the newborn as it hears the heartbeat of the mother, a sound it has heard for nine months.
Nowadays, medical staff has started initiating breastfeeding of the newborn even after a C-section. If the mother has been given a spinal or epidural anaesthesia, the process is started while still in the operation theatre, with the help of a nurse and the anaesthesiologist.
Through breastfeeding, the mother and child bond together and a feeling of security sets in. It is noted that by breastfeeding the child, the mother is less prone to develop postpartum depression and stress.
Studies say that those mothers who successfully breastfeed in the first 24 hours are less prone to depression that may occur due to hormone changes and other factors like poor sleep, tiredness and pain caused due to stitches. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus to contract thereby aiding in its return to its natural position in the pelvis. A well contracted uterus has lesser blood loss, and this also helps the mother to recover faster.
As long as the mother is breastfeeding, she is likely to take care of her diet, as we all know that eating healthy during nursing our baby passes on that benefit to the baby. Breastfeeding helps to burn calories faster causing the pregnancy weight to shed faster. Importantly, not many are aware that breastfeeding protects a woman from breast cancer. The longer you breastfeed your baby, lesser are the chances of developing breast cancer.
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.
The author is a senior Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi