Breastfeeding for optimal growth

Holding your child in your arms defines the joy of motherhood. You are contented, happy and feel blessed. The moment your little one arrives, your responsibility as a mother begins. The first right thing you need to do is to initiate breastfeeding within first hour of the delivery.

Breast feeding is one of the single most important ways to improve a child’s life-long health, helping reduce the risk and severity of many diseases in infancy and beyond. It strengthens mother-infant bonding. For pre-term infants, breast feeding has specific benefits in reducing the risk and effects of necrotizing enterocolitis (life threatening infection).

As per Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) 2013, (Govt. of India) you should:

  • Exclusively breastfeed from birth till six months.
  • No other food or fluids should be given to infants below six months unless medically indicated.
  • After completion of six months of age, with introduction of optimal complementary feeding, breastfeeding should be continued for a minimum of two years and beyond. Children should receive foods from all the food groups.

Did you know..

Colostrum is the 1st yellow coloured thick milk secreted that is rich in all the necessary nutrients. Feeding colostrum protects your baby against infections and promotes health during childhood and in later years.

Benefits of breastfeeding to the baby
  • Improves growth and nutritional status
  • Protects against allergies; lowers the risk of overweight/obesity
  • Lowers the risk of chronic diseases (diabetes, heart diseases, asthma & some cancers)
  • Improves cognitive & motor development
  • Benefits the immune system and protect against infectious diseases (respiratory tract & gastrointestinal tract infections)
  • Lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Benefits of breastfeeding to the mother
  • Assists in uterus contraction after birth which reduces postpartum bleeding
  • Faster maternal recovery & weight loss after delivery
  • Reduces the risk of postpartum depression, gestational diabetes, osteoporosis
  • Exclusive breastfeeding can provide a natural form of contraception
  • Reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, pre-menopausal breast cancer
  • It is simple, safe, economical and establishes bond between mother and baby

Guidelines for enhancing optional infant and young child feeding practices, Ministry of health and family welfare, Government of india, 2013.