Posted by: Admin | January 10, 2013

My wish for the New Year!


I ask myself this question every first day of the New Year. I used to do the resolution thing but as I never held any of my resolutions, I do not do that anymore. I discovered it is easier to wish for something positive that I will not be responsible for. That way, I cannot mess it up, right?

So here goes: For the new 2013 year, I wish for…I wish for every baby to be breastfed exclusively for their first 6 months of life.

But what does my resolution really mean? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), when you decide to breastfeed exclusively, you make the decision to offer no other food or liquid to your baby. He will grow and thrive on your breastmilk alone.

Here the official definition of exclusive breastfeeding by the WHO, which says:

“Exclusive breastfeeding” is defined as no other food or drink, not even water, except breast milk (including milk expressed or from a wet nurse) for 6 months of life, but allows the infant to receive ORS, drops and syrups (vitamins, minerals and medicines).”

What does 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding mean for a baby and his mother?

 

Simply put, it means a healthier child and a healthier mom! The summary of the 2007 WHO paper on this topic says:

“Exclusive breastfeeding for six months (versus three to four months) reduces gastrointestinal infection, does not impair growth, and helps the mother lose weight.”

Many studies have since reported on the benefits of maintaining exclusive breastfeeding for as long as you can towards the six-month mark. It seems that the longer the period and the higher the intensity of breastfeeding, the more benefits there will be to a baby’s health. This phenomenon is called “dose-response”. Some benefits also apply to a breastfeeding mother. In her case, the total duration and intensity of all her breastfeeding experiences add up to increased benefits.

Babies profit from a reduced incidence of illnesses such as respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, and they receive protection against chronic illnesses such as anemia, diabetes, other inflammatory illnesses and atopic diseases. Mothers’ immediate benefits are usually a more rapid weight loss and a delay in menses, which in turn will give them a better blood iron level and a larger interval between pregnancies. For the mother over the long term, there is less risk of developing osteoporosis (brittle bones) and premenopausal ovarian, uterine and breast cancer.

Last but not least, let’s not forget the bond created by such a close contact between the mother and child. Breastfeeding exclusively means the mother makes a clear decision to remain close to her child for the first half of the entire first year of her baby’s life. This decision alone shows an intention that initiates a strong bond, and then the time the dyad spends together cements the attachment. This symbiosis with his mom teaches the child that he can trust the world to be there for him; it boosts his self-confidence and helps the emotional component of his brain development.

See Part 2 – I’m changing my resolution…already! To be published shortly.

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