“Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers” Statement taken from the world health organization publication on the nutrition of exclusive breastfeeding.
The first years of life are the most crucial years for brain, immune system and overall physiological development. This is why, it is extremely important to achieve optimal nutrition standards in these early years. Studies have shown that having optimum nutrition in infancy can lead to profound benefits throughout the lifespan of the person. Breastfeeding is extensively recommended, as the best way to achieve the most advantageous start for new-born babies, from the multifunctional aspect of both nutrition and enhanced protection against infectious agents.
Breast feeding is a natural phenomenon and has numerous benefits to both baby and mother associated with it. The world health organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Suckling is an instinctive nature of all mammalian and provides their offspring with a pure, wholesome, nutritional food. Therefore, mothers and babies are genetically designed to gain from this natural process. Studies in humans have demonstrated that breast feeding of babies for even their first 3 months, can induce favourable health repercussions for many years after. However, the benefits are not just for the baby, breast feeding has also been shown to exhibit many beneficial effects both transient and sustained in the mother too.
Breast milk is produced uniquely by a mother for her infant’s consumption. This means that it is manufactured within the mother’s mammary gland, and its components are tailored exclusively for the benefit of her baby. Due to this, it has been proven to reduce the chances of babies having digestive problems and developing infections. Babies that are exclusively fed by their mother’s milk are less likely to suffer from colic, constipation, diarrhoea, vomiting and respiratory tract infections. A lot of these problems seen in formula feed babies are due to the fact that the particular composition of the formula doesn’t suit their digestive system. Breast milk consists of the optimum proportions of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water. It is extremely digestible for a new-born baby because the milk is naturally refined to perfectly suit the baby’s digestive system. The milk also contains growth factors such as, epidermal growth factor (EGR) and insulin-like growth factor. The epidermal growth factor works by helping to prepare the lining of the gut to absorb the nutrients from the milk consumed. Insulin-like growth factor is believed to be one of the primary factors regulating early growth and development. Breast milk also contains essential fatty acids that are not present in most formula milk products. The two...