Reccommedations of the World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO highly recommends that mothers breastfeed their baby for the first six months of its life. Only In the sixth month should families start offering their baby any other nutritional inputs. Breastfeeding can continue for more than 2 years. In addition to these:
- Breastfeeding should start during the first hour after the birth.
- The baby should be breastfed day and night, whenever he or she is hungry.
- Nursing bottles and pacifiers should be avoided.
1. The benefits, for the baby, of breastfeeding
Breast milk is the ideal nutrition for newborns and for olderbabies. Breast milk provides the nutrients that the baby needs for itshealthy development. Breast milk is safe and it includes importantsubstances (antibodies) that protect the child from diseases such asdiarrhea and pneumonia. Diarrhea and pneumonia are the most frequentcauses of child death worldwide. Breast milk is an easy and cheapfeeding method that helps the baby to grow and be healthy.
2. The benefits, for the mother, of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is beneficial for the mother. It is generallyaccepted as a natural birth control method as it prevents menstruation.However, it should not be forgotten that it is not 100% effective. Itdecreases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers that can emerge inolder ages, it shortens the time required for the mother to return toher original weight, and it prevents obesity.
3. The long term benefits for children who are breasfed
Breast milk enables the children the stay healthy throughouttheir lives. In adults who were breastfed by their mothers when theywere babies the risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity,and type 2 diabetes all decrease. And breastfed children receive higherscores in intelligence tests.
4. Why infant formula shoud be avoided?
Infant formulas don’t include the protective substance(antibodies) found in breast milk, and the risks of catching waterbornediseases increases if clean water is not used while preparing the infantformula. If excessive water is used to extend the infant formula, therecan be resultant problems of malnutrition. In addition to these points,as frequent breastfeeding increases the amount of breast milk, if amother then wants to change her feeding style from infant formula backto to breastfeeding, this would then not be possible since breast milkproduction will have decreased.
5. It is important to support the mother.
Breastfeeding is a process that should be learned, as many women canhave difficulty when they first start breastfeeding. Concerns aboutnipple pain, and of not having enough milk, are both frequently heard.The midwife, nurses and doctors must all help the mother learn aboutbreastfeeding, and should train the mother.
6. How can a working mother breastfeed her baby?
WHO states that the mother should not work for at least the first 16months after birth, shoud rest and breastfeed her baby. Mothers whostart working cannot generally complete the necessary 6 monthbreastfeeding period because of insufficient time, and due to either notfinding a place to breastfeed or the absence of a fridge to preservethe breast milk. There should be a clean, safe place for breastfeedingin all workplaces.
7. The next step: Starting other foods
To meet the needs of a 6 months old baby, additional nutritionsshould now be offered, while continuing to breastfeed. Food for thebaby can be prepared by using the regular food of the family. WHO hasissued a small collection of warnings about breastfeeding:
- Additional foods should be given with spoon or with a baby glass when additional foods are offered;
- Additional foods should be given with spoon or with a baby glass instead of with any baby bottle;
- The foods should be clean, reliable and local;
- The fact that, for small children to adapt to solid foods, it takes long time, this should not be forgotten.