Breastfeeding awareness week attempt to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing benefits of breastfeeding.

World Breastfeeding Week 2022: The benefits of breastfeeding
 No matter how difficult nursing may be at first, with patience and effort, there will come a day when breastfeeding will become second nature – exactly as Mother Nature intended.

World Breastfeeding Week, held every August for the first seven days of the month, aims to highlight the enormous benefits that breastfeeding can bring to both babies and nursing mothers.

Did you know that breastfeeding is one of the most effective methods for ensuring the health and survival of children? However, nearly two out of every three infants are not breastfed exclusively for the recommended six months – a number that has not changed in two decades.

Busy mothers face various pressures, which means some women who wish to breastfeed their children may not always get the assistance they need. Due to busy work schedules and the numerous other problems that modern women encounter, mothers may not always feel that breastfeeding their baby is a choice that is available to them.

This article discusses the multiple physical and mental health benefits of nursing for both mother and child.

What’s in breast milk?

Breast milk contains:

  • Various nutritious components that are easily absorbed, as well as antioxidants
  • Enzymes
  • Over 200 complex sugars called oligosaccharides
  • Immunological characteristics
  • Growth factors that support healthy development
  • Active antibodies from the mother

Breastfeeding has many advantages for both baby and mother

Breastfed infants have:

  • Improved immune systems
  • Significantly reduced diarrhoea, constipation, gastroenteritis, gastroesophageal reflux, and premature necrotising enterocolitis (NEC)
  • Fewer colds and respiratory infections such as pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and whooping cough
  • Fewer ear infections, particularly those that cause hearing loss
  • Less chance of contracting bacterial meningitis
  • Lower infant mortality rates
  • Lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Less overall illness and hospitalisation

Breastfed newborns may grow up to be healthier children because of:

  • Fewer allergies, eczema, and asthma attacks
  • Fewer childhood malignancies, such as leukaemia and lymphomas
  • Reduced risk of type I and type II diabetes
  • Fewer cases of Crohn’s disease and colitis
  • Lower respiratory illness rates
  • Less speech and orthodontic issues
  • Fewer cavities
  • Reduced risk of being fat later in childhood
  • Better brain maturation
  • Increased resistance to infection

Breastfeeding is physically and emotionally healthy for mom:

  • Promotes faster postpartum weight loss by burning 500 additional calories daily to create and maintain a milk supply
  • Causes the uterus to contract and shrink back to normal size
  • Reduced possibility of postpartum haemorrhage
  • Lessened risk of urinary tract infections
  • Reduced risk of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Lowered risk of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
  • Breastfeeding causes the naturally calming chemicals oxytocin and prolactin to be produced, which promotes stress reduction and happy sentiments in the nursing mother
  • Physical and emotional bonding between mother and child is strengthened. Breastfeeding encourages more skin-to-skin contact, as well as more holding and stroking. Many people believe that loving connection during childhood helps prevent social and behavioural difficulties in children and adults

How to obtain breastfeeding assistance

Most breastfeeding issues are fixable, even if you don’t believe it when you’re in the midst of it. So, don’t give up when (or if) you come across them.

If you’re battling to breastfeed reach out to your physician or midwife. Alternatively, contact a lactation specialist (whose consultation, by the way, may be covered by your insurance at no cost to you). For a list of South African Certified Lactation Consultants, click here.

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