Breastfeeding a prerequisite ritual in the life of a newborn and the mother for the healthy growth of the baby for it is the first and the best nutritious food for a newborn.

The primary stage of nurturing the baby 

The first three months of a child’s life is the most delicate period for both the mother and the child. Mothers have to go through a lot of unexpected experiences in the first few months of their motherhood – from a range of health issues to lactation and breastfeeding. In this turbulent period, a lot of suggestions and instructions are launched on the new mother regarding the care of her child. Worldwide, the first week of August is celebrated as the ‘breastfeeding’ awareness week. Many of us are aware of its essentiality and strive to care for our children in the best possible way; however, there is still a lack of awareness regarding exclusive breastfeeding, the duration for which a baby needs to be breastfed, and the diet of the mother during this period. (To know more about the diet for lactating mothers,(read Eat Well to Feed Well 

Advantage mammals, including us the humans

Breastfeeding is a unique and the best way of providing the right nutrition for a baby for healthy growth. It is unique to mammals in the animal world, including us, the humans. Several researchers have shown that exclusive breastfeeding of an infant for six months is the perfect way to feed the infant. If the baby is fed only and exclusively on breast milk, no other additional food or water during these six months is required for the baby.

Exclusive breastfeeding has a set of advantages for the baby as well as the mother, and the advantages prove that exclusive breastfeeding is the best Kickstarter for the baby’s growth.

 The benefits of breastfeeding for the infants include,

 1.the best supply of all the nutrients an infant needs the first six months of life, thereby reducing infant mortality,

2. Helps in better development of sensory and cognitive abilities, leading to better intelligence quotient (IQ)

3. Rich in antibiotics, breast milk helps the baby in fighting infectious and chronic diseases.

4. Reduces incidences of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity

Advantages of exclusive breastfeeding for the mother are: 

1. It helps in effectively spacing between the childbirths

2. Decreases the risk of ovarian and breast cancer

3. Absolutely an economical and safe way to feed a child

4. Helps in creating a bond between the mother and the child

5. Prevents postpartum depression that many women face after childbirth.

The second best for your baby

There may be reasons when the mother is unable to lactate or breastfeed the baby due to medical reasons or some unforeseen situations, the human milk from the other lactating lady is the second best option. Dai maa or the nursing mother was a common practice in the Indian culture. The ‘human milk bank' may seem like a novel concept today, but it is the modern-world reincarnation of the age-old system.One should know that the milk-substitutes may provide the required nutrients, but the useful pro-health and anti-disease properties of human breast milk cannot be replaced. This is where the human milk banks play a critical role; a human milk bank provides milk to the premature or low weight infants, the babies who separated from their mothers due to some medical complications, or to the orphaned infants.The breast milk is collected from healthy mothers, who are lactating for six months or less and who produce excess milk than required by their infant. The breast milk is extracted by mothers using ‘breast pumps' offering a safe method to extract the milk, and deposited with the milk bank. The milk is then screened, processed, pasteurised and stored under prescribed conditions before giving it to the babies who need it. It can be stored in tightly sealed containers at home, and it is to be given to the babies within 96 hours of collection to ensure that it delivers the best nutritional value.

Points to remember

In the sweet chaos of taking the best care of your child, few things are bound to slip away from your mind. Let me share a few tips to breastfeed and create a strong bond with your child successfully 

1. Breastfeeding the baby within the first hour of life is essential.

2. While breastfeeding, the position is crucial; tummy to tummy is the best position. 

3. Don’t use artificial teats or pacifiers to avoid confusion with the nipple.

4. Feed the baby on his/her demand, not by yours.

5. Skin to skin touch promotes milk production.