Breastfeeding: Benefits for Mother’s and Child’s Health

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Javed Siddique
Breastfeeding is the very necessary diet for the new born babies. Breastfeeding for two years is equally beneficial for maternal and neonatal health, respectively. Breastfeeding strengthens the immune system of the infants and stable the normal growth of the children.  It benefits them for life long stronger the bones, protect from different diseases and shorten the chances of physical and mental abnormalities.
Breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond. (WHO)
The cases of breast cancer are increasingly affecting the women’s health. The breastfeeding is the best natural method to overcome the hike of breast cancer in women folk. Alarmingly the trend to not feed the children mother’s milk on one side depriving the children of their very rights of sustaining a healthy life, on the other side it is also increasing the financial burden on poor and deprived masses.
On the one hand, the parents bearing the expenses of formula milk and diets for newborn babies, on the other hand, the poor health or health related complications by using different formula diets compelling them to go and visit doctors time and again that almost would be a reason for concern on the pockets of parents. In case due to modern trend to not feeding breast to their children, women would encounter breast cancer that also reflects the finance of family drastically and also causing mental unrest for the entire family.
Breast milk is the natural first food for babies, it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third of the second year of life. Breast milk is full with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.
Breast milk offers ample and easily absorbed nutritional components, antioxidants, enzymes, immune properties, and live antibodies from the mother. Mother’s more established resistant system makes antibodies to the germs to which she and her baby have been exposed. These antibodies enter her milk to help protect her baby from illness. Immunoglobulin A coats the lining of the baby’s immature intestines helping, germs and allergens from leaking through. Breast milk also contains substances that naturally relax infants.
Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development and guards the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding cuts infant mortality due to common childhood diseases such as diarrhoea or pneumonia and helps for a faster gain during illness.
Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers; it helps to space children, lessens the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a safe way of feeding and is benign for the environment.
Experts at a seminar to create awareness about the dangers of breast cancer warned that the number of deaths caused by the deadly disease was on the rise in Pakistan, with 83,000 such cases reported and around 40,000 women dying of it every year. They said breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cancerous cause of death.
Every year, 800,000 children die in Pakistan and 35 percent of these occur due to malnutrition. The risk of death is nine times higher for a child suffering from malnutrition compared to a child with a balanced diet. Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta from Agha Khan University, an expert on nutrition, said breastfeeding should be encouraged as it decreased the chances of death in the first two years of a child.
No sane person can deny the fact that the breastmilk is the best nutrition you can give your baby, with supplementary benefits for a mother. It is more economical than formula feeding, also lesser trips to the doctor and less money is spent on medications. Breastfeeding promotes mother-baby bonding, it throws positive effects on the psyches of mother and her baby. After being aware of these above-mentioned benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding the parents, especially mothers should prefer to breastfeeding instead of formula milk and in return secure their children’s and their selves from the different diseases and health related complications.
A healthy family obviously will enjoy the full benefits of life and live with a smile. A little practice would enhance the chances to live a happier life, promote breastfeeding, love your children and love yourself. Awareness on this regard is indispensable, let us hold our hands together to protect our children and mothers from severe diseases and pave the way towards a healthier Pakistan.
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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Muhammad Javed Siddique has a degree of Master’s in Political Science from the University of Karachi and currently working as a General Councilor in incumbent Local Government UC-Pishukan District Gwadar, Balochistan. He is a featured contributor for Balochistan Voices.