There are two aspects why breastfeeding is important for the mother as well as for the child. One is the nutritional aspect while the other is the psychological aspect. While the nutritional aspect is no doubt very important, that which some think can be substituted, the psychological bonding which develops between the child and the mother is unparalleled and does not have any alternative.
Majority of the women in our country breast-feed their children but delay in breastfeeding, wasting the first milk (rich in cholostrum) and giving water to the infants in between the food is also a popular trend. Drinking sufficient amount of water is good for health but giving water to a child who is six months old or less can cause serious threat to his life. The experts believe that the infants six months old or less should be given breast milk instead of water in case of excessive thirst.
Water can lead to intoxication in the child. In this condition the extra water along with sodium goes out of the body. Deficiency of sodium in the body can affect the functioning of the brain. An infant should be given breast milk at the right time to guarantee the prevention of malnutrition. Some women tend to breastfeed the child immediately after birth, or avoid giving first milk to the child due to its yellow colour or stop breast feeding after a few months; these practices have a serious impact on the health of the child.
Four to five month old child does not require additional water other than breast milk. The mother’s milk has enough water even in dry and hot atmosphere that fulfills the water requirements of the child. The mother should place her nipple into the child’s mouth after half an hour of delivery. The thick milk that is produced after delivery is yellow colored thick milk containing colostrums vitamins and other nutrition’s.
There is a general perception that breastfeeding spoils the mother’s figure but this is not true. The chances of breast cancer reduces if women breastfeed their children. The chances of second pregnancy is very less till the mother is breastfeeding its first child. In this way breastfeeding helps in controlling the growing population.
The essential components of breast milk
There are a number of breast milk components that are extremely beneficial to babies’ development. Many of these cannot be found in formula.
• Immunoglobulins: All types of immunoglobulins are found in human milk. The highest concentration is found in colostrum, the pre-milk that is only available from the breast the first three to five days of the baby’s life. Secretory iga, a type of immunoglobulin that protects the ears, nose, throat, and the gi tract, is found in high amounts in breast milk throughout the first year. Breast milk levels of iga against specific viruses and bacteria increase in response to a maternal exposure to these organisms.
• Lactoferrin: Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that is found in human milk, but is not available in formulas. It limits the availability of iron to bacteria in the intestines, and alters which healthy bacteria will thrive in the gut. It is found in the highest concentrations in colostrum, but persists throughout the entire first year. It has a direct antibiotic effect on bacteria such as staphylococci and e. coli.
• Lysozyme: Human breast milk contains lysozyme (a potent digestive ingredient) at a level thirty times higher than in any formula. While other components of breast milk vary widely between well-nourished and poorly nourished mothers, the amount of lysozyme is conserved, suggesting that it is very important. It has a strong influence on the type of bacteria that inhabit the intestinal tract.
• Growth factors: Human breast milk specifically encourages the growth of lactobacillaceae, which are helpful bacteria that can inhibit many of the disease-causing gram-negative bacteria and parasites. There is a striking difference between the bacteria found in the guts of breast and formula-fed infants. Breast-fed infants have a level of lactobacillus that is typically 10 times greater than that of formula-fed infants.
• Allergic factors: The cows’ milk protein used in most formulas is a foreign protein. When babies are exposed to non-human milk, they actually develop antibodies to the foreign protein.
• Carnitine: While carnitine is present in both breast milk and formula, the carnitine in breast milk has higher bioavailability. Breast-fed babies have significantly higher carnitine levels than their counterparts. Carnitine is necessary to make use of fatty acids as an energy source.
• Dha & ara: The main long-chain fatty acids found in human milk are still not present in many formulas. These lipids are important structural components, particularly in the substance of the brain and the retina. Significantly different amounts of these ingredients have been found in the brains and retinas of breast-fed versus formula-fed infants.
In a condition if mother doesn’t have sufficient amount of breast milk due to certain conditions, Ayurveda can help u a lot. There are many medicine in ayurveda which help to initiate as well as increase the lactation.
Hence encourage a new mother to give her child the best and apt gift of breast milk to her new born child.