Exclusive Breast Feeding: Nature’s Most Under-utilized Gift (Part 1)
07-Apr-2014.By: Funmi Sipe
One can never go wrong with nature. The same goes for breast milk, which is the best and first natural food for babies. It is produced by the mother for her own baby. Breast milk is a perfect composition of proteins, fats, carbohydrate and fluids that new born babies require. Also, the breast milk composition changes day by day and feed by feed to meet the baby’s ever-changing needs. A lot of women mix up the true meaning of exclusive breastfeeding, including me shortly before now.
My first experience with exclusive breastfeeding threw brighter light to my understanding of the significance of this beautiful demand of nature. A knowledge which today, I am so excited and passionate to share with my fellow nursing mothers, especially female executives like me.
I became an advocate of exclusive breastfeeding after understanding the importance of breastfeeding, which I practised for three months when I had my first baby before I resumed work (three months maternity leave over!). Even after I resumed work, I still didn’t give up my obligation in ensuring that I give my baby the best nutrition nature has provided; a nutrient which cannot and never be rivalled by even its most expensive artificial counterpart.
It was a huge sacrifice that I had to pay because I know the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. My baby grew strong and healthy even beyond my imagination. Sometimes I ask myself if I actually gave birth to a baby that strong (smiling). This, of course, was a motivation for me to do same when I had my second baby. Guess what, the plan is to breed a generation of strong, healthy and energetic babies who will grow up to be physically and mentally strong, smart and intelligent adults that will drive positive change in Nigeria.
This position was also buttressed by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendations that babies should be fed only breast milk for their first six months and that breastfeeding then is continued as part of a mixed diet until the age of two years. The benefits of breastfeeding can never be over-emphasized to both the mother and the child.
Breastfeeding protects your baby from developing allergies. Research shows that babies who are fed a formula based on cow’s milk or soya milk tend to have more allergic reactions than breastfed babies. This so because breast milk contains immune factors such as secretory immunoglobulin A which prevents allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to a baby’s intestinal tract.
Also, this same main immune factor that is present in large amounts in colostrum (the first milk the body produces for your baby) guards against invading germs by forming a protective layer on the mucous membranes in the baby’s intestines, nose and throat. Studies also show that breastfeeding protects your baby from a long list of illnesses such as stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, meningitis, type 1 and 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and inflammatory bowel disease.
There are a whole lot of benefits derived from prioritising breastfeeding for our babies. In my next article, I will be sharing with you the benefits of breastfeeding.
Meanwhile, I am sure that a number of women who have also prioritized breastfeeding will have their own experience. What do you think about exclusive breastfeeding? Feel free to share your opinion or experience with us in the comment box.
Last Updated: 30-Jun-2016 07:39 PM