When Mary Janssen gave birth last year, she wanted to give her child a strong start in life, so she opted to breastfeed the new-born instead of turning to baby formula. Mary, 29 from Netherlands, now settled in the UAE knew exactly the immune-boosting benefits of breast feeding, compelling her to opt for it.

To breastfeed – or not – is a personal choice for any new mother. However, it has been observed that 3 in 5 babies, mostly born in low and middle income countries, are not breastfed within the first hour of life, placing them at higher risk of death and disease, according to a new United Nations report. According to the report, new-borns who breastfeed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive, however, it is estimated that 78 million new-borns are excluded.

Earlier studies, cited in the report, show that new-borns who began breastfeeding between 2 and 23 hours after birth, had a 33 per cent greater risk of dying, compared to those who breastfed within 1 hour. And the risk more than doubled among new-borns who started a day or more after birth. However, the report also stated that 65 per cent of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have the highest rate of breastfeeding within the first hour, while East Asia and the Pacific have the lowest rate with only 32 percent benefitting from the early initiation.

“Breast milk is very important for a new-born. It has the right proportion of nutrients and provides antibodies to help defend against infections and allergies. As much as it is important for the child, breast milk is also a great health source for mothers. Breastfeeding moms can help shed pregnancy weight and protect against breast or ovarian cancer later in life,” said Dr.  Maisaa Al Sulaiman, Specialist Family Medicine of Burjeel Hospital For Advanced Surgery (BHAS).

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with complementary foods until at least 12 months of age. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommends the same.

“Breast feeding creates skin-to-skin contact, which develops a special bond between the mother and child. It is critical that babies are brought in contact with mothers after birth, as this is the time when mother’s production of breastmilk, including colostrum, is produced ahead of regular milk. It is rich in nutrients and antibodies, that it is often referred to as the baby’s first vaccine,” said Dr. Maisaa.

There are several foods that can help improve the supply of breast milk. Oatmeal is one of the best foods for boosting the milk supply. It has good source of nutrients that are important for breastfeeding. In addition to foods, doctors recommend mothers to drink plenty of water and relax well to be able to boost milk supply.

“As a lactation consultant, I find that one of the greatest misconceptions about breastfeeding, is the supply and demand aspect of milk production. It should be noted that the more baby feeds, as long as baby is attaching and suckling correctly, the more milk will be made. It’s a natural process. Mothers shouldn’t worry if the baby keeps feeding regularly,” added Dr. Maisaa.

While breastfeeding offers optimal health benefits to mother and child, some mums may experience difficulty with the process. Experts at Burjeel Hospital For Advanced Surgery (BHAS) can help women who find it difficult to lactate. Breastfeeding gets easier if women have good up-to-date information on hand. Knowledge leads to empowerment and gives more confidence.

 

Source: Alisa PR

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