Best choice for every baby

Update: 2019-08-02 00:14 IST

Breastfeeding is an incomparable way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of new-borns and infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers.

The WHO Review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter, infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. In India, breastfeeding is inadequate as only 55% babies are exclusively breastfed 0-6 months and 41% are able to begin breastfeeding within an hour of birth.


To increase breastfeeding, women need to be informed accurately and supported at home, health facilities and workplace and to breastfeed wherever they are. This year's World Breastfeeding Week theme is to create an enabling environment for women. Annually the first week of August (1-7) is celebrated as World Breastfeeding Week across the world with an aim of raising awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding.

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 during the second year of life.

Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea or pneumonia, and helps a quicker recovery during illness.

Various studies by health organisations have shown that breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers; it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment

Breastfeeding benefits are as follows: Ideal food for health growth of new-borns and infants; Natural first food for babies; Provides all the energy & nutrients infant needs for initial months of life; Reduces common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea or pneumonia; Helps a quicker recovery during illness; and, Contributes to the health and well-being of mothers

(Writer holds MBBS, DGO, DNB (OBGY). She is Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Laparoscopic & Infertility Specialist at Citizens Specialty Hospital, Nallagandla, Hyderabad)



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