Importance of mother's milk for a newborn

Indian scholars have compared mother's milk to "amrit". The Charaka Samhita, written over two thousand years ago, emphasizes the importance of mother's milk. Indian women have been following this tradition since time immemorial.

The newborn learns to communicate his need for food by crying. The baby learns to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing. He can digest and absorb nutrients required for growth and development. Doctors nowadays advise exclusive mothers feeding for the infant minimum up to five months. Mother's milk is the natural healthy food for the infant's growth. It contains almost all the nutrients needed for the child in correct proportion.

Advantages of mother's milk for the mother

Feeding mother's milk helps the mother's uterus contract and return to normal more quickly after childbirth. It also delays ovulation and suppresses menstruation. It has some contraceptive effects when women do it for extended periods. The chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer as well as osteoporosis are lesser in mothers who feed their babies.

Advantages of mother's milk for the baby

Mother's milk reaches the baby at the right temperature and there is no problem regarding sanitation. It is germs free and no preparations are required. It is recognized that some flavours ingested by the nursing mother pass into mother's milk, thus the infants adjust easily to new foods while weaning. It also saves a great deal of money, time and bother involved in bottle feeding bottle-feeding a child.

Feeding mother's milk is simple, safe and clean. It helps promote loving attachment or bonding between the mother and child and can be enjoyable for both. The child feels safe and protected in the mother's arms. It has the right nutritional value and composition as required by the baby. The incident of illness is four times per year against 144 times per year in artificially fed babies. The infants get protection from rota-virus infection, a major cause of deadly diarrhoea. They have fewer chances of becoming overweight. Studies have shown that the babies are more intelligent, healthy, and smart. They grow up to be emotionally secure and stable adults.

Importance of feeding Colostrum

For the first couple of days the baby gets only a few drops of colostrum. This is a clear, yellowish secretion rich in protein, vitamin A and antibodies. It is the perfect food designed by nature for the newborn. Colostrum also helps in developing the immune system for the fight against disease-causing germs and enzymes in the digestive system of the newborn. Lactoferrin and lysozyme present in mother's milk inhibit bacterial growth and help in the digestive system mature.

Techniques and duration of feed

The baby is given the first feed about eight to twelve hours after birth. The infant is nursed at each side for about five minutes so that the milk production is stimulated. Later the feeding frequency is increased to feed the infant every three to four hours. During the first few weeks, these intervals may be irregular. Later a feeding rhythm is established. The duration of feed is a matter of individual performance. It is advisable to feed the baby minimum six months to 2 years. It is very important to feed the baby in a calm and relaxed atmosphere.


Author: Umesh11 Dec 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

Ideally speaking, breastfeeding is the best nutrition for a baby and it gives all the required food components to the newborn.

In certain conditions when the mother is sick and under medication or under stress, this may not be a healthy option for the baby and being susceptible may catch some infection from the mother. In such conditions the advice of the doctor will have to be sought.

If the mother is weak in overall health and is anemic and not able to produce sufficient lactation, then also it becomes a load on her to continue breastfeeding to the baby and in such cases, external milk preparations are required.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao12 Dec 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

A very good article in which the author very clearly expressed the advantages of breastfeeding, both to the mother as well as the baby. This world has become such a bad location wherein even cow milk also is adulterated and no food is available without any contamination. In this world, so far, only mother's milk is definitely without any adulteration. So, till the baby gets the required energy and gets accustomed to this world, it is a very good option to feed only mother's milk. The child will be healthy and energetic by taking this feed. No doctor is advising any milk other than mother's milk. But as mentioned by Umesh, when the mother is sick and weak what is to be given to the baby is to be answered by the doctor who treats the mother regularly.

Author: Natarajan12 Dec 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

Educative article for everyone or every family who are having a newborn or planning to have children. There is no substitute for mother's milk. This message should be given out loud and clear to the younger generation, who for various reasons shift on to bottle feeds during the most crucial phase in the life of an infant.

The practice of mother feeding the infant is also important for the bonding between mother and child to happen. Breastfeeding is one of the most satisfying tasks a mother can do just after childbirth. Elders at home and medical professional advise about good diet and supplements so that the mother can produce nourishing milk and the baby can benefit from it. Every mother and family should proactively encourage breastfeeding unless there is a medical contraindication for breastfeeding.

In western countries, I've seen working mothers getting time off to visit the creche in the workplace to feed the baby and come back to work. I'm not sure whether this would be practical for all places in India but this is just a message for the employers and employees to think about and encourage breastfeeding to these babies.

At times, when the mother cannot produce enough for the baby, then supplements would be prescribed. AMAARA is a foundation that has opened Public Human Breast Milk Bank in Delhi and Bangalore. Here, mothers come in as volunteers to donate milk and this is pasteurized and given to needy premature babies. This novel plan help in breaking the myths and taboos around breastfeeding. This is no cost involved for the needy premature baby's family to avail the services.

  • Do not include your name, "with regards" etc in the comment. Write detailed comment, relevant to the topic.
  • No HTML formatting and links to other web sites are allowed.
  • This is a strictly moderated site. Absolutely no spam allowed.
  • Name: