By Lolyne Ongeri
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a global campaign started in 1992 to raise awareness and support for breastfeeding and is officially celebrated on 1-7 August every year.
Breastfeeding is essential for the health and well-being of infants. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and adequate, safe complementary foods while the baby continues breastfeeding for up to two years. However, the WHO is concerned that inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes continues to undermine efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and duration worldwide
Breastfeeding provides an infant with the best start possible in life. Here are some reasons why you should consider breastfeeding your baby:
- Breast milk is clean and safe and helps keep your baby healthy. It contains everything your baby needs for the first six months of life in all the right proportions. Its composition also changes to reflect the infant’s needs, especially during the first month of life.
- Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight viruses and bacteria, reducing the risk of illnesses and diseases. It reduces newborn mortality.
- Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity because the child regulates their milk intake. They are better at eating until they have satisfied their hunger, helping them develop healthy eating patterns.
- Some studies have linked breastfeeding to higher IQ scores in later childhood, and physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact help your baby bond with you and feel secure.
- For mothers, breastfeeding burns extra calories helping them lose pregnancy weight faster. It also releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. Studies have also shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Since you do not have to buy formula, breastfeeding saves you money to purchase other child necessities.
Health practitioners recommend mothers breastfeed babies for as long as possible due to its numerous benefits. Consider breastfeeding to benefit your baby and yourself.