In World Breastfeeding Week, which we celebrate every year from 1 to 7 August, Dr. Tea Alexandrova talks about the benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk and gives her advice so that young mothers and pregnant women can feel supported and build confidence in this mission.
The WHO and UNICEF actively promote breastfeeding as the best source of food for babies and young children and recommend that the woman in labor start breastfeeding her baby within the first hour of birth and that children be breastfed exclusively during the first six months of life – meaning no other foods or liquids are provided. including water.
Babies should be breastfed on demand – as often as the child wants, day and night. The introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods should begin at six months, and breastfeeding should continue until the age of two, and even beyond.
Only 2% of mothers breastfeed their babies for more than six months.
The first six months
Exclusive breastfeeding for six months has many benefits for the baby and mother. The main among them is the protection against gastrointestinal infections, which is observed not only in developing but also in industrialized countries. Statistics show that early initiation of breastfeeding, within an hour after birth, protects the newborn from infections and reduces newborn mortality.
It has been shown that:
Breast milk gives your baby a healthy start in life.
- Breast milk is always available and is fresh, clean, safe and at the right temperature.
This is the only food your baby needs for the first six months.
Your breast milk will change over time to meet your baby's changing needs.
Breast milk is the best immunostimulant for your baby.
For Maternal Health
The longer duration of breastfeeding also contributes to the health and well-being of mothers: it reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer and promotes recovery of the body after pregnancy and childbirth. It may even reduce the risk of osteoporosis (weak bones) in old age, as well as type 2 diabetes in mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
When breastfeeding, the mother should pay attention to her nutrition and hydrate herself qualitatively, which means 16 glasses of clean water daily. The choice of water is important, so spring water is recommended. It has a constant composition, low mineralization and a unique balance of minerals, which makes it suitable for everyday use.
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Breastfeeding: a loving bond between mother and baby
Breastfeeding is more than food for your baby. When you hold your baby close during breastfeeding, he can feel, sniff and see you. This helps you build a close, loving bond between you and your baby. Breastfeeding may take some time to get used to, it may even be difficult at first. However, the benefits for you and your baby are worth it.
Support for breastfeeding
Mothers and families need to be supported so that their children can be optimally breastfed.
Here are a few steps that help promote and support breastfeeding:
- skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth and the start of breastfeeding in the first hour of life;
- breastfeeding on demand (that is, as often as the child wants, day and night);
- accommodation in a common room (allowing mothers and babies to stay together 24 hours a day);
Do not give babies extra food or drink, even water, unless medically necessary.
- provision of supportive health services with counseling for feeding babies and young children;
- community support and activities to promote health and education.
Dr. Alexandrova graduated in medicine with honors in 2018. She has been working in the pediatrics department and in the emergency pediatric office at the University Hospital for Active Treatment "N. I. Pirogov" since the beginning of 2019, as well as in a Covid-19 ward for children in the same hospital in 2020. Since the summer of 2020, she has been creating an Instagram account @mamadoc.bg, in which she shares useful information about raising children, as well as tips for quickly dealing with emerging medical conditions. He believes that awareness is the most important key to conscious and peaceful parenting. This is what motivates her to share information on her Instagram channel, which often remains unclear to parents.
World Breastfeeding Week