Breastfeeding within first few hours critical for a baby’s immune system

12:28 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India

Colostrum provides essential nutrients and reduces the risk of death by about 22%

New Delhi, 31 July 2018: About 7.8 crore newborns around the world are not breastfed within their first hour of life thus lowering their chance of survival and meeting the growth, developmental, and intellectual potential. Most of these newborns are born in low-and-middle-income countries, including India, where 41.5% of the 2.6 crore babies born every year get breastfed within the first critical hour of birth.

Breastfeeding within the first few hours and later at least for the first six months of the infant’s life is extremely essential. Colostrum, the thick, sticky, yellowish milk mothers produce during the first few days after delivery provides essential nutrients as well as antibodies to babies. It protects them from infections and reduces the risk of death by up to 22% in the first month of life.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “There is research to indicate that babies exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life have stronger immunity. They also have lower infection rate, higher intelligence and emotional quotient, as also better nutritional status. There are various factors due to which a majority of newborns may miss out on the initial few hours of breastfeeding. Some of these include traditional practices such as feeding honey or sugar water to the baby; availability of formula milk, lack of enough breast milk in the mother, or delayed initiation to feeding due to a Cesarean section or other issues.

Breast milk in itself is a complete food and is sufficient for the baby’s growth upto 6 months. After that, breastfeeding can be continued along with solid foods up to the age of 2 years. It can be continued for as long as the mother and baby desire.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “It is important for a nursing mother to take good rest, keep hydrated and eat a nutritious diet. Though you may find it difficult initially, once this becomes a habit, things are bound to get better. It is advisable to takerelaxing evening walks with your baby to get some fresh air. Accommodate light stretching exercises into your schedule to keep your body fit and prevent joint and muscle stiffness.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Avoid fatty, oily, gassy, and spicy foods or those containing too much salt or sugar. Take a diet rich in healthy calories and protein as breastfeeding can drain you out. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, low fat dairy, lean meats, brown rice and leafy greens.
  • Drink adequate water to maintain a good supply of milk. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee. Restrain from smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • It is also important for breastfeeding mothers to maintain good breast hygiene. Infections or cracks in the nipples can not only affect you but also your baby and the entire breastfeeding routine.
  • Clean the nipple with warm water after every feed and moisturise. Take a bath everyday. Shower twice during a hot summer day. Do not use soap or other chemical-based cleansers to clean the breast.

Comments are closed.