Growing body of research continues to support Breastfeeding

August 7, 2017 6:02 pm
Breastfeeding is an important component in USAID’s maternal and child health and nutrition efforts/Photo credit-USAID

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7 – Children are any parents pride and joy and as they grow from birth to adulthood every milestone is closely watched and supported. So when Cindy (not her real name) read that breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies she was intrigued.

“Breastfeeding was never my thing until I read this … it got me thinking about the far reaching effects. I breastfed my first child for just five months; I know that a minimum of six months is recommended but things changed drastically when I went back to work,” said Cindy.

She then started reading up on breastfeeding. “In this information age, there’s a lot out there … it’s overwhelming; one has to sift through the truths and myths,” she mused. That was three years ago, Cindy is now expecting her second baby and this time around she plans to breastfeed for as long as possible.

“The newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth, in the arms of the mother, food from her breast and security in the warmth of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.”
Grantly Dick-Read, MD.

1 – 7 August. 2017, people all over the world celebrated World Breastfeeding Week.

In his message, Dr. Anwar Fazal, Chairperson Emeritus of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) says, “Breastfeeding gives us medicine, it gives us nutrition, it helps us in the economy because it is free; it helps us with ecology because there is no waste of cans and other such like containers used in the production of artificial milk and it gives us the wonderful joy of the mother and child being connected.”

Peninnah (not her real name) has an eight-month-old baby says she’s eternally grateful to the lactation consultant at Nairobi Hospital. “At first, I thought there was something wrong with me, it was like I didn’t have any milk but the nurse explained about the colostrum otherwise known as ‘first milk’,” she said

“The colostrum is thick, yellowish, and limited, but there’s plenty to meet your baby’s nutritional needs. It helps a newborn’s digestive tract develop and prepare to digest breast milk,” she clarifies.
She says the nurse went on the explain that as the baby needs more milk and nurses more, the body responds by making more milk. The nurse recommended breastfeeding exclusively, i.e. no formula, juice, or water for 6 months. “She taught me the ‘ABC’ of breastfeeding which became my mantra,” Peninah said.

The ABCs of Breastfeeding

  • A – Awareness. Watch for your baby’s signs of hunger, and breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry. This is called “on demand” feeding. The first few weeks, you may be nursing eight to 12 times every 24 hours. Hungry infants move their hands toward the mouth, make sucking noises or mouth movements. Don’t wait for your baby to cry. I could be a sign he’s too hungry.
  • B – Be patient. Breastfeed as long as your baby wants to nurse each time. Don’t hurry your infant through feedings. Infants typically breastfeed for 10 to 20 minutes on each breast.
  • C – Comfort. Relax while breastfeeding, and your milk is more likely to “let down” and flow. Get yourself comfortable with pillows as needed to support your arms, head, and neck, and a footrest to support your legs while breastfeeding.

Doctors say that even after starting the baby on solid food after 6 months the mother should continue breastfeeding to ensure her body keeps producing milk.

What’s more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touch, and eye contact all help a mother bond with her baby. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow.

In their World Breastfeeding Week – 2017 message, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) said, “Breastfeeding is not a one woman job. Mothers need assistance and support from their health care providers, families, employers, communities and governments so they can provide their children with the healthiest possible start to life.”

They say breastfeeding is one of the smartest investments that a country, a community and a family can make.


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