"The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months; after that, complementary feeding is to be introduced".
"For infants to survive, grow and develop as they should, they need to be exclusively breastfed". For others, the stigma they face when they try to breastfeed children in public discourages them from attempting.
While the infant formula industry is a US$45 billion global business, with the means to run slick publicity campaigns targeting parents and health professionals, breastfeeding advocates rely mainly on well-documented evidence to get their messages across.
"As per World Health Organization, if every child is breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding with other food up to the age of two years, about 220,000 child lives would be saved every year".
He stated that the first one thousand days of life- "period of pregnancy and next two years of life", were important for the formation and future trajectory in the growth and development of the child.
With number of deliveries through cesarean section rising, many more new born babies are not getting the most critical first feed of breast milk within one hour of birth. This includes the social stigma associated with breastfeeding, particularly in public, but also the lack of support in some workplaces for mothers who need to express milk after their return from maternity leave.
Breastfeeding is beneficial for mothers as well since it helps them to lose weight faster. Breastfeeding allows children to fight ear infections, pneumonia, stomach viruses and diarrhea, lymphoma, leukemia, Crohn's disease, asthma, eczema, diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). According to experts, it reduces the chances of breast and ovarian cancer, reduces uterine bleeding after birth, burns extra calories, etc.
First celebrated in 1992 by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), World Breastfeeding Week is now observed in over 120 countries by UNICEF, WHO and their partners to spread awareness about benefits of breastmilk and exclusive breastfeeding as well as factors that could promote or hinder exclusive breastfeeding by nursing mothers and recommendations of the way forward.
No one can deny the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the well-being of both the infant and the mother. But while undergoing treatment, a woman on radiation therapy should avoid breast feeding for that period.
Aside children, Prof. Eregie said mothers also benefit from the process, as suckling a baby just an hour after birth kick starts the stimulation of hormones (Oxytocin) for the quick contraction of uterus which prevents "post partum hemorrhage" (bleeding) and "involution" (return of uterus to normal size after birth).