Every mom should find breastfeeding natural right? Not quite….breastfeeding my first child exclusively for six months changed my life. It affected a lot of things, like returning to work as a medical doctor because my baby was totally dependent on me. The pressure of exclusive breastfeeding took a toll on me…..I kept encouraging myself with the statement that; my infant needs #breastswithbenefits. As a medical doctor, I knew the benefits derivable from Early Initiation of Breastfeeding (EIBF) and Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF). I did not want any of my children to miss out on them.
Considering whether to practice EIBF and EBF or not? Read through these unique benefits of EIBF and EBF:
According to the World Health Organization, breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs in the first six months of life. Breastfeeding protects against diarrhea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, and also has longer-term health benefits, such as reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence. Provision of mother’s breast milk to infants within one hour of birth is referred to as “early initiation of breastfeeding” and it ensures that the infant receives the colostrum, or “first milk”, which is rich in protective nutrients. Research based evidence indicates that skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant shortly after birth helps to initiate early breastfeeding and increases the likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding for one to four months of life as well as the overall duration of breastfeeding. Infants placed in early skin-to-skin contact with their mother also appear to interact more with their mothers and cry less. Also, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk for six months without liquids or solids are given – not even water – with the exception of drops of vitamins, minerals or medicines.
It is important to note that EIBF and EBF ensure optimal breastfeeding and offers these benefits to infants:
- Significantly increase the effectiveness of immunizations.
- Reduce the likelihood of diarrhea and the need for ORS.
- Significantly increase intelligence and readiness to learn.
- Strengthen mother-child protective bond.
- Significantly increase physical and mental growth.
- Prevent infant mortality.
Practice these tips during pregnancy and after delivery to enable EIBF and EBF for your infants:
- Make conscious efforts to deliver in a hospital that is Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) compliant.
- Make conscious efforts to deliver in a hospital that complies with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
- Discuss with your nurse or midwife to facilitate uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between you and your infant as soon as possible after birth.
- Request for practical support to enable you initiate and establish breastfeeding and manage common breastfeeding difficulties.
- Feed well during pregnancy, after delivery and during breastfeeding to ensure good quality of breast milk produced.
- Practice good hygiene during breast feeding.
- Space your children adequately
- Identify pillars of support at home and at work (i.e. family and friends) and effectively engage them to your infant’s advantage during exclusive breastfeeding.
These tips have enabled me to practice EBF and EIBF for my three children even as a resident doctor and I was able to successfully become an obstetrician. These days I get calls from working/career women who give me reasons they want to evade Exclusive Breastfeeding, I respond by sharing these tips and conclude by saying…hello mom, your infant needs #breastmilkbenefits!
My name is Jane and I am pleased to share my Breastfeeding story. I’ll love to read your story in the comment section!
This article was developed by Oluwatobiloba Akerele drawing from the following references:
The Advantages of Breastfeeding Available at https://www.cbhs.com.au/health-well-being-blog/blog-article/2014/11/24/the-advantages-of-breastfeeding Retrieved March 1, 2019
Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in facilities providing maternity and newborn services Available at https://www.who.int/elena/titles/full_recommendations/breastfeeding-support/en/ Retrieved March 1, 2019
UNICEF and the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding (GSIYCF) Understanding the Past – Planning the Future Available at https://www.unicef.org/nutrition/files/FinalReportonDistribution.pdf Retrieved March 1, 2019
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