“Human milk is made for human infants. It meets all their specific nutrient needs,” said Ruth Lawrence, MD, Paediatrics, University of Rochester, New York.

A mother’s breast milk is said to be an essential element in an infant’s diet plan.

Researchers stated that babies should be exclusively breastfed for six months or for about/at least/ around six months. This policy has been accepted in 61 countries across the globe.

Pre-term infants or those staying in unhygienic conditions are bound to benefit more from such a policy as opposed to those belonging to the affluent class and staying in clean homes.

Some mothers believe that certain breastfeeding supplements, such as formula milk, is good for their baby’s well-being. This is more a myth than a fact. Nature has fine-tuned the human milk exclusively for the human baby, ensuring that the human body is not exposed to anything that is foreign to it. Breastfeeding supplements, especially formula milk, irrespective of the claims of ‘humanisation of the milk’ by the manufacturer contain animal proteins, which are quite different from that of humans. After all, nature has made the cow’s milk for the four-legged cud-chewing calf and not for a flat-lying human baby.

Studies have shown that breastfed babies face lower instances of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhoea and rashes, allergies and other medical problems as opposed to those who are bottle-fed.

Do you know why?

Firstly, the human breast milk contains the appropriate amount of lactose, fatty acids, water and amino acids which are required for human digestion, brain development and growth.

Secondly, when feeding the baby, a mother invariably transfers antibodies, to combat various diseases, to her baby. Interestingly, 80 percent of the cells in breast-milk can kill bacteria, fungi and viruses.

What are the other benefits of breastfeeding?

Experts say that sucking at the breast ensures that the baby’s jaws develop well. Moreover, it strengthens the bond between a mother and her baby.

It is thus essential that a baby consumes her mother’s breast milk for the first year of life.

Things to remember

Planning and motivation for breastfeeding should commence even before the birth of the baby.

Women should ensure that their breasts are well taken care of.  In case of any problems in the nipples should be brought to the attention of their doctor. Most of these problems are easily correctable.

Although, some experts say that women suffering from breast cancer can feed on the unaffected breast, the anti-cancer medicines become a contra-indication for doing so.  Under these please ask your doctor for advice on breastfeeding.  Further, if you are taking any medication, please before nursing disclose that to your doctor as some medication and seek their advice on breast feeding.  Also Women with silicone breast implants should consult their doctors before they begin breastfeeding.

Tips to help you nurse your baby successfully

Here are a few tips that could assure you of a less stressful feeding session:

1. Get an early start: Breastfeeds should begin within an hour after delivery, preferably when the infant is awake and the sucking instinct is strong.

2. Position your baby properly: The baby’s mouth should be wide open and with the nipple as far back into his or her mouth.

3. Nurse your baby on demand: Watch out for those signals depicted by your baby when he or she is hungry for milk.

4. Delay the use of artificial nipples: Be patient. It does take a while for your baby to get used to sucking at the breast. But it is the best thing to do.

5. Air dry: In the initial days after the birth of the child or until the nipples toughen. The mother should air dry her breasts so as to prevent them from cracking. Cracked breasts could lead to various infections.

6. Eat right, rest well: Mothers need a balanced diet with 500 extra calories a day as well as six to eight glasses of fluids. They must also rest for a satisfactory period of hours.