Benefits of Breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding can prevent approximately 820,000 deaths of children under the age of five annually.
  • It decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections, ear infections, SIDS, and diarrhea in babies.
  • Breastfeeding may lower the risks of asthma, food allergies, and diabetes.
  • It can improve cognitive development and decrease the risk of obesity in adulthood.
  • Mothers who breastfeed have less blood loss following delivery, better contraction of the uterus, and a decreased risk of postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding and Long-term Health

  • Breastfeeding delays the return of menstruation and, in some cases, fertility.
  • It decreases the risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis in mothers.
  • Breastfeeding is less expensive than infant formula.
  • It may cause manageable symptoms such as vaginal dryness, cramping, and nipple pain.
  • Feedings may last 30-60 minutes each initially, but the duration may shorten as milk supply increases.

Breastfeeding Physiology

  • Breast development starts during puberty, and the size of the breast does not affect breastfeeding capability.
  • Milk production occurs in three stages: during pregnancy, after birth triggering the milk to come in, and gradually over several weeks.
  • Lactation may also be induced with hormone therapy and nipple stimulation.
  • Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin play a role in milk production.
  • Physiological changes in pregnancy prepare the breast for lactation.

Breast Milk Composition

  • Breast milk can be categorized into nutritional content and bioactive content.
  • Nutritional content includes optimal balance of fat, sugar, water, and protein.
  • Factors like gestational age and maternal age can influence the nutritional makeup of breast milk.
  • Colostrum is the first type of milk produced, rich in protein and vitamins.
  • Transitional milk is produced during the transition from colostrum to mature breast milk.

Breastfeeding Process and Recommendations

  • Initiate breastfeeding within the first hour after birth.
  • Uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding should continue for at least one hour after birth.
  • Kangaroo care or the golden hour encourages instinctual breastfeeding behavior.
  • Skin-to-skin contact is important even after Cesarean surgery.
  • Babies naturally follow a process called breast crawl to initiate breastfeeding.
  • Numerous health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months following birth.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding means no supplementation of any type except for vitamins, minerals, and medications.
  • After solids are introduced, continued breastfeeding is recommended.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until at least 12 months.
  • The World Health Organization recommends frequent, on-demand breastfeeding until two years of age or beyond.

Breastfeeding Data Sources

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