It becomes very important to discuss about Colostrum while discussing about breastfeeding. Breast milk is made up of the nutrients present in the bloodstream of the mother. Throughout the pregnancy hormones prominently prolactin prepares the breast to produce and secrete the milk, and also inhibits the lactation before birth. Just after childbirth oxytocin hormone propels the milk from the glands to the duct system. Hence comes out the first milk known as Colostrum. It becomes very important to discuss about Colostrum while discussing about breastfeeding.
Importance of Colostrum:
Colostrum is yellowish thick creamy form of milk produced immediately after childbirth by mother’s mammary glands. It contains Antibodies IgA, which plays most important role in building immunity in newborn. Colostrum also acts as laxative since it loosens the sticky black substance called Meconium in infant’s intestine and allows to pass first stools. Colostrum is high in proteins.
For understanding the further importance of breastfeeding it is required to discuss the various aspects of it.
- Nutritional Importance:
Breast milk provides wholesome nutrition to the infant in the first half of the first year of the life. It contains very high amount of proteins and ample amount of carbohydrates and fats. It is also rich in the minerals like calcium health. Vitamins C , A, D, Vitamin B Complex and E, K are present . Iron and other important minerals are also present is also present but in smaller amounts. In comparison with top milk or formula milk, breast milk is far more easily digestible and nutritious for the baby. But to produce good quality milk, a mother has to take special care about her diet. Her diet should be high in proteins and in calcium as well. To fill the nutritional gap supplements are recommended by doctors and nutritionists.
- Physiological Importance:
Breastfeeding helps the infant gaining weight but also prevents obesity. It helps mature intestine. Prevents juvenile jaundice in many cases as well and encourages baby’s optimal development. Studies have shown that breastfed babies possess more I.Q. than babies fed with top milk. Breastfeeding is a great way to help your baby maintain his body temperature.
- Socio-Emotional importance:
WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) suggests exclusive Breast feeding for first 6 months is very important for mother infant relationship. Breastfeeding makes the baby feel more secure. Baby comes to understand that he is loved and protected and that the mother is there to provide for his needs as he adjusts to this new world. Breastfeeding for the first few months can improve baby’s cognitive development. Means breastfeeding could make him more intelligent if fed till 2 yrs of age.
- Immunological Importance:
Antibodies that are present in the breast milk, prevents the baby from various diseases. Breast milk reduces the risk of baby getting allergic reactions such as asthma. Nursing the baby can even help to protect him against serious illnesses, such as childhood diabetes and leukemia and other malignancies. The insulin in breast milk is far less than in formula milk. Insulin helps create fat so breast milk might make it easier for baby to put on weight but also prevents obesity.
- Breastfeeding a mutual benefit:
Breast feeding not only benefits the infant, but the mother as well. It helps her reducing wait after pregnancy. Helps in preventing Ovarian, Uterine and Breast Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes etc. it helps getting the uterus back in pre–pregnancy shape. It also helps the mother to keep space between children as it acts as natural contraceptive (Lactation amenorrhea), (although it does not provide reliable birth control). Breast feeding mutually benefits mother and the baby.
Challenges and problems in breastfeeding and solutions
- Pain in breast: This problem may occur due to Mastitis, i.e. swelling or tenderness in breast followed by fatigue, headache and fever. Another cause of pain may be Engorgement of breast denoted by swelling, tenderness or hardness or lump on breast. Medication can help, certainly with doctor’s recommendation.
- Sore or cracked nipples: Crack or soreness in nipples can be caused by dryness in due to feeding regularly. It can be cured by specific ointments & nipple cream brands easily available.
- Inverted or flat nipples: Some women may have this problem due to some physiological issues in the body. And as the solution Nipple Pullers are available. When used thy make latching easier & possible for babies.
- Working mothers: Working mothers, who face time challenges to feed their baby, Breast pumps are easily available nowadays. These pumps are available in manual as well as electric options. Mother can express and preserve milk, which can be fed to the baby any time, even in the absence of the mother. Special bottles are also available to preserve the milk. Human milk can be preserved for 3 months in freezer if kept in hygienic conditions. Breast pumps can also help the mothers with other problems like sore, cracked or flat nipple Breast feeding is definitely a gift of nature to the mother and the child which not just nurtures the life but also protects and secures the new life, and strengthens the bond between the two.