Malnutrition kills one out of three infants in India. 66% of these deaths occur during the first year of life and is often caused by inappropriate feeding practices. According to WHO, breastfeeding is absolutely crucial in the first six months and should continue up to two years along with regular food. Sadly, across the world only one out of three children is breastfed during this period.
Benefits of Breastfeeding to the Baby
• The breast milk is a natural and provide complete nutrition for the baby.
• The baby receives adequate nutrients and antibodies necessary for healthy growth through breastfeeding.
• A child that breastfeeds has fewer chances of having diarrhea and other common diseases that plague infants.
• Infant diabetes is also minimized or completely avoided when the child is properly fed with the breast milk.
• Respiratory diseases, pneumonia, kidney diseases and other bodily infections are drastically reduced or even avoided when a child breastfeeds.
• The Intelligent Quotient (IQ) of the child is enhanced as the brain develops through proper breastfeeding.
• Bone formation is enhanced.
• The risks of Rheumatoid arthritis and cute appendicitis are reduced or completely avoided through breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding to the Mother
• A mother who breastfeeds has less chances of having breast cancer.
• Endometrial and Cervical cancers are also reduced or completely avoided.
• The mother enjoys lesser risk of anemia
• Maternal death is usually reduced or avoided
As breastfeeding is crucial for the development of child, thus government has launched MAA (Mothers Absolute Affection), a flagship programme to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding.
“MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection'’ is a nationwide programme launched in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counseling services for supporting breastfeeding through health systems.
The programme has been named ‘MAA’ to signify the support a lactating mother requires from family members and at health facilities to breastfeed successfully. The chief components of the MAA Programme are Community awareness generation, Strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA, Skilled support for breastfeeding at Delivery points in Public health facilities, and Monitoring and Award/recognition.
This is in sync with the life cycle approach adopted by the government as in India; we lose 16.5 lakh children every year due to easily preventable diseases. Early initiation of breastfeeding alone can save the lives of 13% of babies. Under nutrition contributes to nearly one third of child deaths in India. Breastfeeding is one of the single most effective nutrition interventions for saving lives.
How breast milk is different from cow’s milk?
Colostrum, the human breast milk has high protein content and is also loaded with Vitamin A and sodium chloride (salts) and contains lower amounts of carbohydrates, fats and potassium. This is a good thing because an infant’s digestive system isn’t developed enough to digest normal milk. The antibodies in colostrum provide passive immunity, while growth factors stimulate the development of the gut. They provide the first protection against pathogens.