Breast milk is the most important food for a new born baby and breastfeeding is good for both the mother and the baby. August is a month for sensitizing and educating people about breast feeding. World breastfeeding week is celebrated every year from 1st to 7th August to encourage breastfeeding and to improve the health of babies around the world.
The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey of 2016 (3.10.4) indicates that breastfeeding is sufficient and beneficial for infant nutrition in the first 6 months of life. Breastfeeding immediately after birth also helps the uterus contract, which reduces the mother’s postpartum blood loss.
It also shows that Uganda still scores low on initiating breastfeeding in the first hour after birth, with only 42% of babies being breastfed within an hour of being born. If timely initiation is done it would reduce the death of newborn babies by 22% the report states.
Importance of breastfeeding;
Conferring to Andrew Sekitooleko a nutritionist, breastfeeding helps babies achieve their optimal Nutrition since it promotes growth. It is also one of the recommendations for infants by World Health Organization.
It supplies the baby with all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions It provides ideal nutrition for the baby
Breast milk contains important antibodies that help the baby fight bacteria.
It reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and pre-menopausal breast cancer for the mother.
According to the New Vision of Monday August 5th, 2019, Dr. Victoria Nakibuuka a consultant neonatologist at Nsambya Hospital in Kampala says, when a baby is born and is not sick the mother is helped to attach it onto the breast and it comes with many benefits.
Breastfeeding in the first hour encourages skin to skin contact between the baby and the mother. This provides warmth and maintaining the newborn’s body temperature which is important for stability.
Nakibuuka recommends breast milk because of its excellent composition. It has 70%n of whey protein which is easier to digest compared to formula milk, which has more of casein that is had to digest.
The protein in the breast milk has good immune protective properties and encourages growth of good bacteria that helps to fight against diseases such as diarrhea and infection in the intestines of the new born.
The fat in breast milk encourages the growth and development of the brain
Initiating breastfeeding in the first hour of birth means the baby benefits from colostrum which is the first yellowish milk. Colostrum is packed with antibodies which help to build the baby’s immunity enabling it to fight infections.
Sarah Akello, a pediatrician in Kampala describes breastfeeding in the first hour of life as a form of immunization against many diseases a baby is exposed to after delivery.