Facts About Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding is the natural way to ensure the optimal development of babies as it  prevents malnutrition and can ensure the survival of babies.

Fact 1. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life.  Complementary foods can be added or combined with breastfeeding for up to two years or more.

Fact 2.   Breastfeeding should commence within an hour of birth.

Fact 3.  The timing for breastfeeding should be on a demand basis that is as often as the baby wants to be fed.

Fact 4.  Bottles and pacifiers are not recommended for infants.

Fact 5.  Breast milk contains all of the required nutrients and is the ideal milk for newborns. It is safe especially in environments where the quality of sanitation is suspect. Breast milk contains antibodies that protects against the primary causes of child mortality such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

Fact 6.  From the mother’s perspective, breastfeeding works in her favor.  The practice reduces breast and ovarian cancer, helps in reducing weight, and is known as a form of birth control.

Fact 7.  Breastfeeding leaves a lifelong impression as such adults often have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, weight, and type-2 diabetes. There is some evidence of performing better in intelligence tests.

Fact 8.  The replacement for breast milk, that is infant formula, does not contain the antibodies found in breast milk. In environments that are not conducive for the preparation of infant milk, the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment could cause illness in the infants. Poor economic conditions could result in diluted formulas being fed to infants. Once breast feeding is not done on a continual basis, the supply will diminish.

Fact 9. Regulations regarding marketing  of  breast milk substitutes was introduced in 1981 whereby all  infant formula labels have to promulgate the benefits of breastfeeding and the health risks of substitutes. There should not be any promotion of breast milk substitutes. The distribution of free samples was also banned.

Fact 10.  In terms of transmission of HIV, based on WHO recommendations, an infected mother can pass the infection to the child via breastfeeding.  Antiretroviral (ARV) drug interventions to the mother or infant can reduce the risk of HIV transmission during breastfeeding.

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