She also says that many urban women are increasingly using feeding bottles and formula preparations due to the influence of advertisements. This influence is seeping into the rural areas too. In order to facilitate breastfeeding by mothers, the central government has extended maternity leave as well.
Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Nothing else, not even water is necessary for the baby for up to six months of age. The composition of breast milk will take care of all the requirements of the baby. A baby needs breast milk, not artificial milk to grow well.
Advantages of breast milk for a baby:
- More easily digested and absorbed.
- Contains more lactose than any other milk. Lactose is essential for energy and helps in calcium and magnesium absorption.
- Contains more polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and essential fatty acids (EFA). EFA cannot be manufactured in the body.
- The protein in breast milk contains essential amino acids while artificial milk does not.
- Taurine which is plentiful in breast milk has been credited with favoring growth of the baby's brain.
- Contains vitamin D, correct amounts of calcium and phosphate.
- Contains antibodies (immunoglobulin) to fight against many infections.
- Has a substance called bifidus factor, which helps special bacteria to grow in the baby's intestine and prevent harmful bacteria.
- Has laxative properties so that the baby does not get constipated.
- Breast fed babies generally don’t develop allergies.
- Less burden on the baby's kidneys as there is less urea from protein and less sodium to excrete.
Nature has packed the nutrients in breast milk in just the right quantities needed for the baby. 100 ml of breast milk contains: calories - 71, proteins - 1.2 g, lactose - 7.0 g, calcium – 33 mg, vitamin A - 160 TU vitamin D - 1.4, vitamin B1 - 0.017 mg, vitamin B2 - 0.04 mg, vitamin B3 - 0.2 mg, iron - 0.15 mg.
Colostrum, a yellowish fluid which is secreted for the first couple of days after the birth of the baby, is rich in vitamin A, copper, zinc and immunoglobulin, all of which are needed for the baby. "This is why breast feeds should be initiated within one hour after birth. “Most mothers don't, either due to ignorance or pressure from their near and dear ones to avoid colostrums".
Advantages of breastfeeding for the mother:
- It has a contraceptive effect to some extent.
- It facilitates contraction of the uterus.
- It reduces hip girth and helps in return of original form.
- It helps to bond with the baby.
The Food & Nutrition Board has chalked out programs for the World Breastfeeding Week. Along with the medical colleges and the health department, seminars and workshops will be conducted for NGOs, health workers, etc. Exhibitions, demonstration of preparation of weaning foods, quiz, recipe competition for lactating women, healthy baby shows have also been planned.
"Along with sex education, breastfeeding education should also be taught in schools and colleges so that the message goes to all young girls,"