April 24, 2024

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“Breastfeeding provides antibodies and boosts immunity”, says Dr Sunil Agrawal

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Mohali, August 7, 2023: Motherhood is a transforming experience and brings new meaning to a woman’s life. Mother’s milk contains essential proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates, which protect the baby from infection and disease. To encourage the practice of breastfeeding, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1-7 every year across the globe. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2023 is “Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work!” This year’s campaign focuses on promoting practices that can help support workplace-related breastfeeding in different countries.

Dr Sunil Kumar Agrawal, Neonatologist, Fortis Hospital Mohali said, “Breastfeeding is of paramount importance and is considered as the first vaccine for a baby. Babies have low immunity and are prone to infections. Mother’s milk comprises essential nutrients which act as a barrier against several diseases and provides ideal nutrition. Breastfeeding provides antibodies and boosts immunity, promotes baby’s healthy weight, lowers risk of Type I and II diabetes, reduces chances of cancer, lymphomas, allergies, eczema, and asthma. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from diarrhoea, cold and flu. This practice also helps build an emotional connect between a mother and child.”

Dr Agrawal further elaborates “More than half a billion working women are not given essential maternity protections in national laws. Just 20% of countries require employers to provide employees with paid breaks. This year’s theme will focus on breastfeeding and work, providing a strategic opportunity to advocate for essential maternity rights that support breastfeeding – maternity leave for a minimum of 18 weeks, ideally more than 6 months, and workplace accommodations after this point. More than half a billion working women are not given basic maternity provisions; many more find themselves unsupported when they go back to work.”

How much is beneficial for babies?
Stating that mother’s milk is easily digestible, Dr Agrawal, added, “Newborns should be given breast milk about 8–12 times per day during the first month. The World Health Organisation recommends mother’s milk should be started within the first hour of birth, and then given exclusively for the first six months of life. This is followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years and beyond.”

How does it help mothers?
Breastfeeding babies not only improves the well-being of lactating mothers, but also lowers the risk of developing disease such as breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer, besides rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

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