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Mother’s milk: Importance of breastfeeding for both mother and child

Dr. Sophia Rodrigues, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Manipal Hospital, Goa



During World Breastfeeding Week, attention is being given to the challenges that urban working mothers face while trying to breastfeed their babies and manage their professional responsibilities. Although motherhood is a beautiful experience, it can also be demanding. One of the challenges that new mothers face is breastfeeding, especially if they are having difficulty producing enough milk. This can lead to sleepless nights and anxiety.

New mothers encounter many challenges as they navigate the different aspects of motherhood. One of the first changes they experience is breastfeeding their new-borns. Breast milk is vital for a baby’s first six months of life, as it contains all the necessary nutrients for their growth and development. This includes fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water. Breast milk is also easily digestible and sterile, which reduces the risk of contamination.

Breast milk is a living substance that adapts to a baby’s changing needs. It contains living cells, including stem cells, that can transform into various body cell types. Breast milk’s immune-boosting components protect against harmful organisms and promote optimal development.

Breastfeeding strengthens the bond between mother and baby, creating a strong emotional connection. It also provides protection against allergies and infections. Breastfeeding is a remarkable natural process that offers nourishment, protection, and support for a baby’s healthy growth.

Some of the key reasons why breastfeeding is considered important:

1. Optimal Nutrition: Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants, containing a perfect blend of essential nutrients, antibodies, enzymes, and hormones that promote healthy growth and development. It is easily digested and helps protect babies from infections and diseases.

2. Immune System Boost: Breast milk is rich in antibodies that help strengthen the baby’s immune system. These antibodies provide protection against various illnesses and infections, reducing the risk of allergies, respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal disorders.

3. Cognitive Development: Studies suggest that breastfeeding may be associated with improved cognitive development in children. Certain components in breast milk, such as omega-3 fatty acids, support brain growth and may have long-term benefits for a child’s cognitive abilities. 4. Bonding and Emotional Well-being: Breastfeeding enhances the emotional bond between a mother and her baby. The physical closeness and skin-to-skin contact during nursing

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