Exclusive breast feeding means that an infant receives only breast milk until 6 months of age without any additional milk like artificial feeds, tonics or liquids like water. There are numerous benefits associated with exclusive breastfeeding and these include child survival and overall growth and development of the baby. Exclusive breast feeding also offers numerous health benefits for mothers like reducing the risk of fatal postpartum hemorrhage and premenopausal ovarian and breast cancer.
Advantages of Exclusive Breast Feeding
- Very convenient method of feeding
- It contains all the nutrients that a baby needs
- Easily digestible and is assimilated by the body
- It protects baby from infection. Some antibodies from the mother protects the child who is breast fed
- It is a natural way to promote mother baby bonding
- It helps the baby’s physical and intellectual development
- It protects mothers health by helping early involution of the uterus, reduces post partum bleeding, so prevents anemia, reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- It helps delay the birth of the second child
- Breast fed babies are free from dental caries
- Prevents malnutrition
- Breast milk protects the child from attacks of diarrhea, respiratory infections etc..
- Breast feeding is to be encouraged in HIV positive mothers as it prevents inter cellular infection which could accelerate progression of HIV in already infected infants
Initiation of breast feeding
- Newborn are given only breast milk
- Mothers to be should be educated regarding the dangers of pre-lacteal feeds and importance of colostrum ( this is the thick milk that appears first when the baby suckles)
- Colostrum is rich in antibodies
- Early initiation of breast feeding preferably within half an hour of birth and frequent suckling helps milk formation and prevents engorgement
- Giving colostrum has also been called the first immunization
- After caesarean breast feeding as soon as mother recovers from anesthesia
Frequency and duration of feeding
- Encourage breast feeding on demand (known by the crying of the baby)
- Baby should suckle as long as he/she wants
- Let the baby finish feeding on the first breast to get fat rich hind milk before moving to the next breast
- If the baby does not want the second breast the next time the mother should suckle on this breast first
- Encourage breast feeding day and night
- Breast milk contains enough water even in summer
Exclusive Breastfeeding Tips: Benefits for Mother
Like mentioned earlier, exclusive breast feeding is not just beneficial for the child but is also beneficial for the mother.
- Benefits maternal health: Breastfeeding exponentially reduces the risk of fatal postpartum hemorrhage and premenopausal ovarian and breast cancer. Exclusive breast feeding also contributes to delay in return of fertility and helps protect women against anemia by conserving iron.
- Improves mother and child bond: Exclusive breast feeding offers frequent interaction between mother and infant. This nurtures emotional bonds, a sense of security, and stimulus to the baby’s developing brain.
Exclusive Breastfeeding Tips
No one can deny the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the well-being of both the infant and the mother. Thus, here are a few breast feeding tips:
- After the baby is born make sure that you breastfeed your baby within the first hour
- Do not give your baby any supplements or even water for the first 6 months
- Breastfeed the baby on demand and as often the baby wants it
- Even at night the baby should be breastfed. Co-sleeping with the baby will help with this
- It is advised to keep your baby away from artificial nipples and pacifiers in order to prevent nipple confusion
- Get all the information and knowledge you can about breastfeeding and its related problems. Columbia Asia Hospital has a programme called Columbia Kids where a lactation nurse will help you with all breast feeding related issues.
- Get involved in breastfeeding support group of other mothers who are also following exclusive breast feeding
- At the hospital make it clear to the doctor and nurses that you intend on nursing exclusively
- If you are a working mother and returning to work, you can also exclusively breastfeed by pumping breast milk during the day, storing it in a clean container and ask the care giver to feed the baby, Continue breastfeeding at night.
Have an in depth discussion with a doctor on exclusive breast feeding. At Columbia Asia Hospital, youwill find our health care team that will advise and guide you through your concerns. Our hospitals are located across India in cities like Bangalore, Ghaziabad, Kolkata, , Ahmedabad, Patiala, Mysore, Gurgaon, and Pune.
Tags: Exclusive Breast Feeding , Exclusive Breastfeeding , Breastfeeding Tips , Advantages , Infant , Infants , Baby , Breastfed , Pumping , Breast Milk , Benefits