Exclusive breastfeeding is when only breast milk is given to a new born baby without the addition of other liquids or solid, not even water with the exception of oral hydration solution or syrups of vitamins, medicine or mineral supplements.
World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health.
The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding is advantageous to both the mother and the child.
After child birth, the breast milk that appears first is called Colostrum usually thick and yellowish fluid, high in protein and low in sugar. It is the ideal first breast milk that helps babies immature digestive tract develop.
Its benefits to the child are:
- Best source of nutrition
- Fewer ear infections, respiratory illness.
- Higher IQ scores in later childhood in some cases
- Provides antibodies that help babies fight viruses and bacterias.
- Lowers risk of asthma and allergies.
To the mother:
- It helps mothers to return to pre-pregnancy weight very rapidly.
- Reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Lowers risk of breast cancer
- Lowers risk of ovarian cancer
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease and
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
Breast milk is nutritious and contains the nutrient required for the first six months of life.
Though the choice of breastfeeding length may vary based on the length of maternity leave or other personal choice. However, exclusive breastfeeding should be encouraged.
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