Breastfeeding incorporates many benefits for both the newborn and the mother. Although breast milk is the ideal food for babies, in Spain, only 40% of children aged 6 months enjoy their benefits.
According to data gathered from the Global Summit on Breastfeeding, only 40% of 6-month-old babies in Spain are breastfed , a rate well below that recommended by the World Health Organization.
Even so, up to 50% of health professionals do not perceive it as a public health problem, despite the importance of breastfeeding for both the infant and the nursing mother.
We start from the fact that breast milk is the ideal food for newborns because it covers the specific needs at each stage of growth and contains antibodies that protect them from gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.
Advantages of breastfeeding for the baby
- Colostrum, which is the first milk secreted by the mammary glands in the first hours after birth, is rich in immunoglobulins, proteins, minerals, vitamins, fats and lactose, which favors the initial stimulation of the baby's immature immune system and favors the development of intestinal flora.
- Breast milk is perfectly adapted to the immaturity of the newborn's digestive and renal systems. For these reasons, breastfed infants have fewer gastrointestinal infections, fewer respiratory infections, and less atopic eczema.
- The nutritional composition of breast milk is adapted to each stage of growth, made impossible with adapted lactation. It is the baby himself who regulates milk production by increasing or decreasing demand according to his needs.
- Accentuates the mother-child bond, which stimulates the baby's safety. Contrary to what is commonly said about malacostumbration of infants if they are caught often, numerous investigations show that the security that conveys to the small ones to be in the arms of the father and the mother translates into more independent adults and with a self-esteem highest.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother
- It emphasizes the mother-child affective bond.
- It releases endorphins, and therefore increases the emotions related to well-being.
- It favors postpartum recovery as it decreases bleeding and allows the uterus to regain normal size more quickly.
- It allows the recovery of iron stores lost after childbirth, since menstruation does not reappear until months after delivery.
- It favors the loss of weight gained during pregnancy, since fat reserves created during the last quarter are used as energy source for milk production.
- There is evidence of the link between breastfeeding and decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
There are some guidelines that may be helpful in establishing breastfeeding correctly :
- A woman can prepare herself during pregnancy by attending a breastfeeding group, since seeing breastfeeding mothers is motivating and provides tools to cope with the onset of breastfeeding.
- Choose, whenever possible, a poorly medicalized delivery, since the probes, routes and episiotomy points make the correct posture of the mother difficult.
- Encourage skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth for breastfeeding to begin during the first hour after delivery.
- Prevent mother and baby from separating during their stay in the hospital or clinic, since the baby needs to be breastfed on demand. What succeeds milk production is the suction of the child and for this reason it must be allowed to be grasped to the mother's breast for the necessary time.
- The health staff should advise but never choose what the baby's diet should be. In turn, the family should motivate the decision of the mother and help to establish breastfeeding normally.
- Visits must be respectful and infrequent, as both the mother and the baby need calm and intimacy.
- The crying of the baby is the way he has to communicate and that does not always mean hunger, so it is not necessary to resort to complementary feeding bottles with a normal breastfeeding.
- It should be remembered that every woman, except for very specific clinical cases, can breastfeed her child normally. It is usually a matter of will and trust in one.