Why it’s important to breastfeed your baby up to 6 months

By Miriam Nyamari On Wed, 7 Aug, 2019 12:45 | 3 mins read
World BreastFeeding Week 2019
Animation of mother breastfeeding

Every year in the month of August from 1st to 7th, the World celebrates the World Breastfeeding Week in commemoration of the 1990 Innocenti Declaration.

The declaration was signed by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations in order to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

WBW started in 1992 with different annual themes, with the aim of encouraging breastfeeding and improving health of babies around the world. 

WBW2019 theme is, “Empowering parents, enable Breastfeeding”, and the slogan was chosen to be inclusive of all types of parents in today’s world.

Empowerment requires unbiased information that is based on evidence and support in order to create an enabling environment for mothers to breastfeed optimally.

It is very vital for mothers who can be able to breastfeed to do so, and the support of those around the lactating mothers helps to improve breastfeeding.

To support the process of breastfeeding, we need to protect, promote and support mothers!

-The 1990 Innocenti Declaration-

In August 1990, a group of policymakers from both WHO and UNICEF met in Florence, Italy and produced the Innocenti Declaration that was about the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. 

The Innocenti Declaration appreciates the unique process of breastfeeding and its benefits for both mother and child. 

In the declaration that was signed in 1990, it states that all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding and infants fed on breastmilk up to 4 to 6months of age. 

It also touches on the obstacles that come with breastfeeding around our society and the importance of eliminating it.

The 1990 Innocenti Declaration had specific recommendations for all governments to develop national breastfeeding policies.

It further urged them to integrate the policies into their overall health and development policies, with specifics that the healthcare staff to undergo training to acquire necessary skills to implement the breastfeeding policies.

Breastfeeding is considered to be one of the best ways to provide infants with needed nutrients.

Experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for babies from the time they are born to when they are six months.

One can, however, continue breastfeeding a toddler up to when the baby turns 2. 

 -Benefits to the mother

  1. “SnapBack”

Breastfeeding helps in burning extra calories, thus helps new mothers lose the pregnancy weight faster.

This is how it happens: During the process, the body releases oxytocin hormones that help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may even reduce uterine bleeding after birth. 

2. Reduces rate of certain health conditions. 

Breastfeeding lowers the risk of a mother getting breast and ovarian cancers. In other studies, it has been found that the process may reduce the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis and some Cardiovascular diseases. 

3. Acts as a Natural Contraceptive

When a mother exclusively breastfeeds her baby, her menstrual period is delayed and this significantly reduces the chances of getting pregnant again during the first six-months. Some of the hormonal contraceptives, especially pills with high concentrations of estrogen, may result to lowering milk supply.  

4. Saves time and money

When you are breastfeeding, you don’t have to worry about buying and measuring formula milk, sterilizing nipples or even warming bottles. 

5. Improves bonding of both mother and child

During baby’s feed time, a mother gets regular time to just relax quietly with their newborn as he or she feeds and it is at this time that you also get to bond with your baby. 

-Benefits to the baby-

Breastmilk is the best food for your baby and it has so many advantages. It is important to exclusively breastfeed a baby for the first six months. 

  1. Nourishes the baby

Breast milk is full of ingredients and also supplies the baby with stem cells, white blood cells and beneficial bacterias and bioactive components that help in fighting infections, preventing diseases and health development. 

2. Improves the sleeping pattern 

Have you ever seen a baby who is suckling? Most of the times, they end up sleeping and what else is better than your baby sleeping?

Breastfed babies are more likely to sleep sooner because of the oxytocin that is produced in your baby’s body when they are feeding.

Other hormones produced, as well, help in developing a healthy sleep-wake pattern for the baby. 

3. Brain development

The first six-months of the baby is when their brain grows and according to research, breastfeeding for those months really helps. 

4. Promotes Healthy Weight 

Breastfeeding helps in promoting a healthy body weight and preventing obesity. This is because the mother’s milk has enough nutrients that are regulated, unlike formula milk.

During the process babies can self-regulate their milk intake which helps in developing healthy eating patterns. 

For those mothers that are unable to breastfeed, it is important to visit a lactation expert.