Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing certain health conditions, such as type 1 & 2 diabetes, obesity and asthma.
Breastfeeding is beneficial for mothers as well since it helps them to lose weight faster.
World Health Organization recommends that infants start receiving complementary foods at 6 months of age in addition to breast milk, initially 2-3 times a day between 6 and 8 months, increasing to 3-4 times daily between 9 and 11 months and 12-24 months with additional nutritious snacks offered 1-2 times per day, as desired. "Colostrum is said to be high in antibodies and reduces the risk of death from hypothermia, helps in epithelial recovery and protects children from infectious diseases".
"Increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates can avert 100,000 infant deaths annually in Nigeria and add more than 150 million dollars to the Nigerian economy each year".
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO South East Asia Regional Director, says, "If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, was exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and continued to be breastfed up to the age of two years, the lives of more than 8,00,000 children would be saved worldwide each year".
Promoting, supporting and protecting breastfeeding is one way we can help give our children a strong foundation for optimal development. It also offers a quiet relaxed time for mother and baby to bond.
On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week 2018, WBW, the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Office, SBFO, is organising a series of interactive sessions and workshops for new mothers and medical personnel to boost awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, and its physical and psychological benefits for mothers and babies.
It prepared educational materials to demonstrate the various health benefits of breastfeeding in the short and long term for both mother and infant and distributed these materials in various health institutions. This is especially important as most establishments in Nigeria do not make any provisions for crèches where breastfeeding mothers can bring their babies so that the babies are close enough for the mothers to take breastfeeding breaks and breastfeed their infants. A lot of them require breast milk for various biological reasons. Stunted growth and childhood malnutrition can be mitigated through better breastfeeding practices as one of its major contributors.
After the first feed, babies are to be breastfed on demand that is whenever the baby shows signs of hunger day and night.
Efforts to address breastfeeding challenges for working mothers saw the Health Act amended to include a clause the stipulates that every organisation with more than 30 employees must have a lactation station for mothers.
Beyond combating marketing of breast milk substitutes, there is need to invest in policies and programmes that support women's breastfeeding.