The importance of Breast Milk

 Breastfeeding is the provision of a mother’s breast milk to her baby. This process is an essential activity toward your baby’s growth. Such importance has triggered Kenyan mums to petition for ample breastfeeding environment in businesses. 

Though breastfeeding is a personal choice, most mums embrace it. Going by the World Bank data, about 60% of Kenyan mums breastfeed their children up to six months. 

What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding to My Baby?

Breast milk is a perfect natural source of nutrition for a baby. Its healthy enzymes and antibodies make it essential for a baby’s health. Some of the health benefits of breast milk include:

  • Eczema and Allergy Protection
  • Increases Vaccines’ Effectiveness
  • Controls constipation, diarrhoea, and stomach upsets
  •  Reduces chances of getting viruses
  •  Reduces ear infections
  • Increases the intelligence of your baby

 Are There Benefits of Breastfeeding to Mums?

 Breastfeeding is essential as it can give both health and social benefits. Let’s look at some of the ways the process can be helpful to you:

  • Lowers your chances of getting ovarian and breast cancerResearch shows that mothers who breastfeed reduce their chances of attaining these types of cancer during the latter stages in life.
  • Reduces your pregnancy weightProduction of milk burns about 400 calories in a day. This function makes it easier to lose weight without changing your diet.
  • Osteoporosis developmentBreastfeeding may reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis mostly occurs after menopause. 
  • Calcium Absorption – Breastfeeding may increase your ability to absorb calcium effectively. 
  • BondingEnhances bonding with your baby. Breastfeeding is special to you as it involves exchange of looks and communication of love to your baby. 

How Do I Get Started with Breastfeeding?

Start breastfeeding soon after birth. At this time, your baby is alert and tries to seek your breast during skin-to-skin contact. Begin when you feel your baby is ready to breastfeed.  Since baby will have an unpredictable feeding, you can develop your feeding routine basing it on your baby’s behaviour. You can consider his duration of sleep and the time he is alert.

  It is important to note that effective breastfeeding needs proper latching and positioning of your baby. You need to sit in a comfortable position with your body well supported. Hold your baby in a comfortable position and have his body facing your breast. Support his back, shoulders, and neck with your folded arm to enable his head to tilt properly. 

Proper attachment of your baby needs to align with the following:

  • Keep him close
  • Ensure his head is free
  • Ensure his position is straight across your lap
  • Position his nose close to your nipple

How Often Do Babies Feed?

 Your newborn needs about 8-12 times of breastfeeding in a day during his first month. Why? The baby engages in exclusive breastfeeding since he cannot take other foods.  Milk is easily digestible, making your baby feel hunger more often. By the second month, your baby will probably need 7-9 feed of milk in a day.

 Building your Milk Supply

 To effectively boost your milk letdown, you can offer your baby both breasts during each session. It is helpful to alternate the breast that you begin to feed your baby. This act ensures enhances stimulation of milk supply. Also, note that keeping a good position during feeding boosts your milk supply.

Granted, breastfeeding is not free of challenges. Some of the problems that you may face include;

  • Low supply of milk
  • Improper latching by the baby
  • Engorged breasts
  • Cracking of nipples
  • Clogging of ducts
  • Bacterial infection
  • Thrush in your baby’s mouth
  • Baby sleeping  at your breast

Read more about breastfeeding here

If you experience any problems with breastfeeding it is essential to seek advice from your midwife.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: ebmd, parents, whattoexpect

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