Breastfeeding: benefits and advice according to the WHO

Breastfeeding is a fundamental act for the health and well-being of both baby and mother. The World Health Organization (WHO) actively promotes breastfeeding as the ideal way to feed newborns and young children. Below, we will explore the numerous benefits of breastfeeding and provide practical tips backed by WHO for mothers to enjoy a successful experience.

Benefits of Breastfeeding according to WHO:

  1. Optimal Nutrition: Breast milk provides all the essential nutrients a baby needs for healthy growth and development during the first six months of life. It contains the perfect combination of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. Protection Against Diseases: Breast milk is loaded with antibodies and other compounds that help protect the baby against a variety of illnesses and infectious diseases, such as respiratory infections, diarrhea, otitis media, and allergies.
  3. Mother-Infant Bond: Breastfeeding fosters a special emotional bond between mother and baby. Skin-to-skin contact during feeding promotes attachment and a sense of security in the baby, contributing to their emotional and cognitive well-being.
  4. Promotion of Cognitive Development: Studies have shown that breastfed children have better cognitive development compared to those who are not. Breast milk contains essential fatty acids that are crucial for brain and nervous system development.
  5. Reduction of Chronic Disease Risk: Breastfeeding has been associated with a lower risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer.
  6. Benefits for the Mother: Breastfeeding helps the mother recover more quickly after childbirth by promoting uterine contraction and reducing the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis in the mother.

Tips for Successful Breastfeeding according to WHO:

  1. Start Early: WHO recommends that breastfeeding begin within the first hour after birth. During this time, the baby is most alert and receptive to feeding, which facilitates latch and sucking.
  2. Learn Proper Breastfeeding Techniques: It is important for mothers to learn proper breastfeeding techniques, such as ensuring a good latch of the baby’s nipple and areola and making sure the baby is correctly positioned. Seeking advice from trained healthcare professionals can be helpful in this regard.
  3. Feed on Demand: Breastfeeding should be on demand, meaning the baby should be fed whenever they request it. This helps establish adequate milk production and meet the baby’s growth and development needs.
  4. Avoid Bottles and Pacifiers: Introducing bottles and pacifiers too early can interfere with breastfeeding and make it difficult for the baby to latch onto the breast. It is advisable to wait at least a few weeks before introducing these items.
  5. Care for Maternal Nutrition: Breastfeeding mothers should maintain a balanced and nutritious diet that includes a variety of healthy foods. Drinking enough water is also crucial for maintaining good milk production.
  6. Seek Support and Counseling: It is important for mothers to receive emotional and practical support during their breastfeeding experience. Lactation consultations and support groups can be valuable resources for obtaining information and sharing experiences with other mothers.
  7. Be Patient and Persistent: Breastfeeding can take time and practice to master completely. It is important for mothers to be patient with themselves and persist even when facing challenges. With time and practice, breastfeeding becomes easier and more rewarding.

As we have seen, breastfeeding is a fundamental part of infant care and nutrition, with countless benefits for both baby and mother. By following the tips provided by WHO and seeking appropriate support, mothers can enjoy a successful and rewarding breastfeeding experience.

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