The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mum and Baby

The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mum and Baby

Dr Balkees, Paediatrician & Lactation Consultant, Pantai HospitalPenang

Dr Balkees, Paediatrician & Lactation Consultant, Pantai Hospital Penang  

Research about breastfeeding continues to show important health benefits for baby and mother.

 

Not only does breastfeeding boost your baby’s physical and mental development, but it also protects your own health.

 

To discuss further, Dr. Balkees Abdul Majeed, from Pantai Hospital Penang shares on the importance of breastfeeding for Mum and Baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Does breastfeeding reduce heart disease?

Breastfeeding is an important public health issue.

Children and adolescents who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese, breastfed infants experienced lower mean blood pressure later in life, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

Breastfeeding is associated with lower maternal risk of cardiovascular disease hospitalization and mortality in middle‐aged and older women. Breastfeeding may offer long‐term maternal cardiovascular health benefits. 

 

 

2. At what age is breastfeeding no longer beneficial?

How long to continue breastfeeding is a personal decision for each family to make. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. no other fluids or solids) for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 2 years or as long as mother and baby desire

 

 

3. Why is breastfeeding so important in child development?

Close-up of woman breastfeeding her small son

 

Breast milk is uniquely suited to the human infant’s nutritional needs and is a live    substance with unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children. 

Not breastfeeding has been associated with increased risk of sudden infant death, necrotizing enterocolitis, diarrhoea, respiratory infections, and otitis media.

 

NOT breastfeeding has been associated with increased risk of sudden infant death, necrotizing enterocolitis, diarrhoea, respiratory infections, and otitis media.

 

The benefits of breastfeeding have been found to continue long beyond infancy and even into adulthood, having been linked to decrease in obesity and overweight, type 2 diabetes, and increased intelligence quotient points. In addition, breastfeeding also has protective effects for the mother, including decreased risks of postpartum haemorrhage, postpartum depression, heart disease, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer

 

 

4. What is colostrum? Why is it important?

Colostrum, the ‘first golden milk’, is good for your baby. It gives new-borns an immunity boost while their immune systems are developing to support good lifelong health.

Colostrum which has been called the ‘’first milk’’,’’ liquid gold’’ or’’ immune milk’’ is a clear, sticky, thick liquid that is produced by a mother’s mammary glands after the first day of a baby’s birth.

At birth, your breasts will make a thick, yellowish substance called colostrum. Colostrum is packed with nutrients and other important substances that help your baby start building up his or her immune system. There will not be a lot of this liquid at first, but the amount will gradually increase over the first couple of days. Most babies will get all the nutrition they need through colostrum during the first few days of life.

 

Colostrum is packed with nutrients and other important substances that help your baby start building up his or her immune system.

 

 

Benefits of Human Colostrum:

There are different so many benefits of human colostrum which are pointed out in the following:

  1. Human colostrum is high in carbohydrates, high in protein, high in antibodies, and low in fat 
  2. It actually works as a natural and 100% safe vaccine. It contains large quantities of an antibody called which is a new substance to the new-born.
  3. Antibodies’’ Secretory Immunoglobulin A (IgA)’’ helps to protect the mucous membranes in the intestines of the infant.
  4. Colostrum also contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells that can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
  5. It has a laxative effect that helps expel the first stool called Meconium. This clears excess bilirubin, a waste product of dead red blood cells which is produced in large quantities at birth due to blood volume reduction, from the infant’s body and helps prevent jaundice.
  6. It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and protects the gut lining.
  7. Colostrum is high in cholesterol, which is essential for the growth of the baby’s nervous system at this stage.
  8. Sugars in the colostrum provide the energy required by the baby’s growing body.

 

Colostrum

Property

Importance

Antibody-rich

Protect against infection and allergy

Many white cells

Protect against Infection

Purgative

Clears meconium; helps prevent jaundice

Vitamin A rich

Reduce severity of some infection (such as measles and diarrhoea); prevents Vitamin A related eye diseases

 

 

survey

 

 

5. What’s the oldest a child can be breastfed?

How long to continue breastfeeding is a personal decision for each family to make. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. no other fluids or solids) for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 2 years or as long as mother and baby desire

 

 

6. Can mums exclusively breastfeed for 2 years?

Breastmilk alone is the only food and drink an infant need in the first six months of life. After six months, a baby needs a variety of other foods in addition to breastmilk to ensure healthy growth and development. 

The transition from exclusive breastfeeding to family foods is referred to as complementary feeding, typically covers the period from 6 to 18-24 months of age and is a very vulnerable period. Breastfeeding should be continued until two years of age and beyond. The first two years of life provide a critical window of opportunity for ensuring children’s appropriate growth and development through optimal feeding.

 

 

 

7. On COVID-19 vaccines: What is your personal opinion on the vaccines, and can pregnant women and lactating mothers get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Young pregnant woman receiving vaccination in clinic

 

Yes, mothers should vaccinate.

COVID-19 vaccines are not to be a risk to lactating people or their breastfeeding babies. Therefore, lactating people can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

(Refer to CLINICAL GUIDELINES ON COVID-19 VACCINATION IN MALAYSIA)

 

 

 

 

8. Can the vaccine affect a lactating mother’s milk production? Are there any potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for the mums?

No Covid -19 -vaccination does not affect lactating mothers milk production. Side effects as for general population. 

 

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