A comprehensive guide to nursing

A comprehensive guide to nursing
Highlights

Mother’s breasts can detect the smallest fluctuation in the infant’s body temperature. Breastfeeding can help mother return to their pre-pregnancy weight - listed here are many such lesser known facts about nursing and its benefits

We all know the saying "breastfeeding is best feeding". However, there are many parents who are unaware about the exact benefits of breastfeeding the infant.

Listed below are some colossal benefits, and a few lesser known facts about breastfeeding:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all infants should be breastfed exclusively until six months of age and thereafter breastfeeding should continue till the child completes two years along with other foods.

♦ Skin-to-skin contact between the mother and infant plays a crucial role in promoting breastfeeding.

♦ Mother's breasts can detect the smallest fluctuation in the infant's body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down the infant as required. This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is very essential.

♦ If the infant latches on the breast well, he/she will be able to get adequate milk from the mother. Even on the day of birth, a mother with twins/ triplets has the capacity to produce double/triple milk as compared to mother with a single baby.

♦ Contrary to the popular belief that mothers do not feel any fullness in their breasts during the first 24 to 72 hours post-delivery, breasts can start f full any time after 24 hours of delivery.

♦ The first milk or colostrum looks very different from normal milk most of the time. It can look transparent, straw colored or yellowish and is the first vaccination for the infant.

♦ The average requirement of a normal full-term infant is anywhere between five-seven ml per feed for the first two days.

♦ Breastmilk boosts the infant's immune system, helping her fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections leading to lesser risk of respiratory tract infections, ear infections, bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, infant diarrhea, common cold and flu etc.

♦ Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of many other diseases

later in life such as type I and II diabetes, Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, asthma, Eczema, etc.

♦ Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis in mothers. The longer the mother breastfeeds, the higher the benefit.

♦ Breastfeeding enables faster healing process for mothers in the postpartum period, helping the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and lowering overall post-delivery blood loss.

♦ Breastfeeding can help the mother return to their pre-pregnancy weight as it takes approximately 750 calories a day on average to produce breast milk. Women are therefore advised to consume an extra 500 calories a day while breastfeeding.

♦ Almost 75 per cent of mothers produce more milk in their right breast, whether they are right- or left- handed.

♦ Breastmilk is tailor-made for the infant. It changes its nutritional profile naturally when the infant starts growing (milk made for a three-month- old is different than for a nine-month-old). Breast milk can even change day-to-day: For example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.

♦ Human milk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies. Breastfeeding also calms a new mother and helps her bond with the baby.

♦ Breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

♦ Breastfeeding reduces the risk of tooth decay in infants which can be caused due to the continued consumption of sugar in formula milk through bottle feeding

♦ Breastfeeding mothers sleep on average 45 minutes more per night, compared to those who formula feed.

♦ A mother can exclusively feed her baby for 6 months on breastmilk even if she has to join back work with the help of breast pumps which are used to express milk for the infant for consumption later.

♦ Breastfeeding is extremely economical (compared to cost of formula /illness and hospitalization expenses).

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