Congratulations! Welcome to our parenting community. Newborn babies are the best gifts from almighty Allah. Newborns are very sensitive and we should take great care of them. According to ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’, every infant has the right to good nutrition.
Production of breastmilk:
The production of breastmilk depends on the secretion of a hormone called prolactin. When you breastfeed more frequently, you release more prolactin. As a result, your body produces more breastmilk.
What breast milk contains?
Breast milk contains proper nutrients and antibodies, which play an important role in boosting the immune system of babies. In addition, breast milk also provides some psychological benefits. Breast milk contains the following nutrients (source):
- Antibodies: Antibodies found in breast milk protect babies from viruses and bacteria.
- Prevents asthma and flu: Asthma, allergy and flu may affect newborns a lot in the first few months. Here comes the importance of breast milk. It protects infants from these diseases.
- Development and growth: Breast milk is essential in the overall development and growth of the mouth and jaw of babies.
- Colostrum: The yellowish sticky breast milk that is produced immediately following delivery of the newborn. It is very important to newborns. Infants, breastfed within the first hour of birth are three times more likely to survive than those who are breast fed after a day.
- Prevents Pneumonia and Diarrhea: Breast milk prevents pneumonia and diarrhea. According to this research, babies who are not breastfed for the first six months of life are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia compared to infants who are exclusively breastfed.
- Reduces risk of Chronic diseases: Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure may affect a lot in the later stages of a person’s life. However, breast milk reduces risks of these diseases in later life.
- Health benefits for mothers: Breastfeeding lowers the risk of postpartum hemorrhage, type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer.
- Bonding with your newborn: Skin to skin contact releases oxytocin- sometimes denoted as the ‘love hormone’ or ‘cuddle chemical’. Furthermore, this hormone creates a great bonding between a mother and a baby.
- Higher IQ: According to a research conducted in Brazil, babies who were breastfed for longer scored higher on IQ tests. Moreover, there is a link between breastfeeding and higher IQ scores and school attainment.
Exclusive breastfeeding in first six months:
When it comes to first six months of the baby, exclusive breastfeeding is the best option. Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk and no other liquids and solids are provided during that time. Despite the benefits, only 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed globally (source). When it comes to Bangladesh, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding is 47% (source).
How much and how long to breastfeed:
You should breastfeed 8-12 times per day in the first month. According to World Health Organization (WHO), you should breastfeed your baby for 2 years or more.
Hygienic practices before breastfeeding:
- Wash your hands after you change your baby’s diapers.
- Rinse your hands after you touch raw meat, vegetables and fish.
What to eat while you are breastfeeding:
Mothers should drink enough fluids when they are breastfeeding. Fluids increase the amount of milk a mother produces. You should have a balanced diet which includes important nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrate, fat and vitamins.
Your diet should have 3 varieties of fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated. These fats ensure that your breastmilk contains the essential fatty acids which are important for the brain and nervous system development of babies.
Try to maintain the following list of foods when you are breastfeeding:
- Bread, cereal, rice and pasta group: 6 servings.
- Fruit group: 2 servings
- Vegetable group: 3 servings
- Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts group: 3 servings
- Milk, yogurt, and cheese group: 3 servings
You can get manganese from grains and nuts. Whole and fortified milk, dark green and yellow fruits and vegetables contain vitamin A. Sunlight, egg yolks and fortified milk are great sources of vitamin D.
Quality of breastmilk:
Women who breastfeed frequently have higher fat concentrations in their breastmilk. If breastmilk is blue, it is low in fat. If it looks creamy, it has higher fat concentrations.
Despite the benefits of breastfeeding, very few babies worldwide are exclusively breastfed. As a result, children suffer from asthma, flu and various diseases. So we should create public awareness about the importance of breastfeeding.