Breastfeeding & Health Benefits

Breastfeeding (स्तनपान), also known as nursing, is the feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast. Health professionals recommend that breastfeeding begin within the first hour of a baby’s life and continue as often and as much as the baby wants. During the first few weeks of life, babies may nurse roughly every two to three hours, and the duration of a feeding is usually ten to fifteen minutes on each breast. Older children feed less often. Mothers may pump milk so that it can be used later when breastfeeding is not possible. Breastfeeding has a number of benefits to both mother and baby, which infant formula lacks. Considering the importance of breastfeeding, Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System appeals to everyone to read about it and understand the utmost importance.

Breastfeeding Definition

Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.

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Newborn Baby

Breastfeeding Benefits (स्तनपान के लाभ)

Breastfeeding decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhea, both in developing and developed countries. Other benefits include:

Benefits for the mother include:

Breastfeeding delays the return of menstruation and fertility, a phenomenon known as lactational amenorrhea. Long term benefits for the mother include:

Health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months. This means that no other foods or drinks other than possibly vitamin D are typically given. After the introduction of foods at six months of age, recommendations include continued breastfeeding until one to two years of age or more.

Medical conditions that do not allow breastfeeding are rare. Mothers who take certain recreational drugs and medications should not breastfeed. Smoking, limited amounts of alcohol, or coffee are not reasons to avoid breastfeeding.

Lactation (दुग्ध-लवण)

Changes early in pregnancy prepare the breast for lactation. Before pregnancy, the breast is largely composed of adipose (fat) tissue but under the influence of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and other hormones, the breasts prepare for production of milk for the baby.

There is an increase in blood flow to the breasts. Pigmentation of the nipples and areola also increases. Size increases as well, but breast size is not related to the amount of milk that the mother will be able to produce after the baby is born.

By the second trimester of pregnancy colostrum, a thick yellowish fluid, begins to be produced in the alveoli and continues to be produced for the first few days after birth until the milk “comes in”, around 30 to 40 hours after delivery. There is no evidence to support increased fluid intake for breastfeeding mothers to increase their milk production. 

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Breast milk (स्तन का दूध)

Not all of breast milk’s properties are understood, but its nutrient content is relatively consistent. Breast milk is made from nutrients in the mother’s bloodstream and bodily stores. It has an optimal balance of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby’s growth and development.

Breastfeeding triggers biochemical reactions which allow for the enzymes, hormones, growth factors and immunologic substances to effectively defend against infectious diseases for the infant. The breast milk also has long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids which help with normal retinal and neural development.

Breasts begin producing mature milk around the third or fourth day after the birth of a child. Early in a nursing session, the breasts produce foremilk, thinner milk containing many proteins and vitamins. If the baby keeps nursing, then hindmilk is produced. Hindmilk has a creamier color and texture because it contains more fat.

Breastfeeding Process (स्तनपान की प्रक्रिया)

Commencement (प्रारंभ)

Breastfeeding can begin immediately after birth. The baby is placed on the mother and feeding starts as soon as the baby shows interest. According to some authorities, the majority of infants do not immediately begin to suckle if placed between the mother’s breasts but rather enter a period of rest and quiet alertness.

During this time they seem to be more interested in the mother’s face, especially her eyes, than beginning to suckle. It has been speculated that this period of infant-mother interaction assists in the mother-child bonding for both mother and baby.

There is increasing evidence that suggests that early skin-to-skin contact (also called kangaroo care) between mother and baby stimulates breastfeeding behavior in the baby. Newborns who are immediately placed on their mother’s skin have a natural instinct to latch on to the breast and start nursing, typically within one hour of birth.

Immediate skin-to-skin contact may provide a form of imprinting that makes subsequent feeding significantly easier. In addition to more successful breastfeeding and bonding, immediate skin-to-skin contact reduces crying and warms the baby.

According to studies cited by UNICEF, babies naturally follow a process which leads to a first breastfeed. Initially, after birth, the baby cries with its first breaths. Shortly after, it relaxes and makes small movements of the arms, shoulders, and head.

If placed on the mother’s abdomen the baby then crawls towards the breast, called the breast crawl and begins to feed. After feeding, it is normal for a baby to remain latched to the breast while resting. This is sometimes mistaken for lack of appetite.

Children who are born preterm have difficulty in initiating breast-feed immediately after birth. By convention, such children are often fed on expressed breast milk or other supplementary feeds through tubes or bottles until they develop satisfactory ability to suck breast milk. Children who are born with tongue ties may have difficulty breastfeeding.

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Immediately After Birth

Breastfeeding Timing (स्तनपान का समय)

Newborn babies typically express demand for feeding every one to three hours (8–12 times in 24 hours) for the first two to four weeks. A newborn has a very small stomach capacity. At one-day-old it is 5–7 ml, about the size of a large marble; at day three it is 22–30 ml, about the size of a ping-pong ball; and at day seven it is 45–60 ml, or about the size of a golf ball.

During the newborn period, most breastfeeding sessions take from 20 to 45 minutes. After one breast is empty, the mother may offer the other breast. Some mothers may prefer to start a breastfeeding session on the breast which the infant was most recently feeding so as to vary the side on which the infant ends because the strength of the infant’s suck usually decreases during the course of one feed.

Breastfeeding duration and exclusivity (स्तनपान की अवधि और विशिष्टता)

Health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months following birth. Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as “an infant’s consumption of human milk with no supplementation of any type (no water, no juice, no nonhuman milk, and no foods) except for vitamins, minerals, and medications.” In some countries, including the United States, UK, and Canada, daily vitamin D supplementation is recommended for all breastfed infants.

Breastfeeding Position (स्तनपान की स्थिति)

Correct positioning and technique for latching on are necessary to prevent nipple soreness and allow the baby to obtain enough milk.

Babies can successfully latch on to the breast from multiple positions. Each baby may prefer a particular position. The “football” hold places the baby’s legs next to the mother’s side with the baby facing the mother. Using the “cradle” or “cross-body” hold, the mother supports the baby’s head in the crook of her arm.

The “cross-over” hold is similar to the cradle hold, except that the mother supports the baby’s head with the opposite hand. The mother may choose a reclining position on her back or side with the baby lying next to her.

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Breastfeeding Positions

Latching on (सिटकनी लगाना)

Latching on refers to how the baby fastens onto the breast while feeding. The rooting reflex is the baby’s natural tendency to turn towards the breast with the mouth open wide; mothers sometimes make use of this by gently stroking the baby’s cheek or lips with their nipple to induce the baby to move into position for a breastfeeding session.

Infants also use their sense of smell in finding the nipple. Sebaceous glands called Glands of Montgomery located in the areola secrete an oily fluid that lubricates the nipple. The visible portions of the glands can be seen on the skin’s surface as small round bumps. They become more pronounced during pregnancy and it is speculated that the infant is attracted to the odor of the secretions.

The lactation consultant (स्तनपान सलाहकार)

Lactation consultants are trained to assist mothers in preventing and solving breastfeeding difficulties such as sore nipples and low milk supply. They commonly work in hospitals, physician or midwife practices, public health programs, and private practice. Exclusive and partial breastfeeding are more common among mothers who gave birth in hospitals that employ trained breastfeeding consultants.

Newborn jaundice (नवजात पीलिया)

Approximately 60% of full-term infants develop jaundice within several days of birth. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes, occurs when a normal substance, bilirubin, builds up in the newborn’s bloodstream faster than the liver can break it down and excrete it through the baby’s stool.

By breastfeeding more frequently or for longer periods of time, the infant’s body can usually rid itself of the bilirubin excess. However, in some cases, the infant may need additional treatments to keep the condition from progressing into more severe problems.

Weaning (दूध छुड़ाना)

Weaning is the process of replacing breast milk with other foods; the infant is fully weaned after the replacement is complete. Psychological factors affect the weaning process for both mother and infant, as issues of closeness and separation are very prominent.

If the baby is less than a year-old substitute bottle are necessary; an older baby may accept milk from a cup. Unless a medical emergency necessitates abruptly stopping breastfeeding, it is best to gradually cut back on feedings to allow the breasts to adjust to the decreased demands without becoming engorged. La Leche League advises:

“The nighttime feeding is usually the last to go. Make a bedtime routine not centered around breastfeeding. A good book or two will eventually become more important than a long session at the breast.”

If breastfeeding is suddenly stopped a woman’s breasts are likely to become engorged with milk. Pumping small amounts to relieve discomfort helps to gradually train the breasts to produce less milk.

When weaning is complete the mother’s breasts return to their previous size after several menstrual cycles. If the mother was experiencing lactational amenorrhea her periods will return along with the return of her fertility. When no longer breastfeeding she will need to adjust her diet to avoid obesity.

Drugs (औषधि)

Almost all medicines pass into breast milk in small amounts. Some have no effect on the baby and can be used while breastfeeding. Many medications are known to significantly suppress milk production, including:

  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Diuretics
  • Contraceptives that contain estrogen

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that “tobacco smoking by mothers is not a contraindication to breastfeeding.” Breastfeeding is actually especially recommended for mothers who smoke, because of its protective effects against SIDS.

With respect to alcohol, the AAP states that when breastfeeding, “moderation is definitely advised” and recommends waiting for 2 hours after drinking before nursing or pumping.

Breastfeeding Health benefits (स्तनपान से स्वास्थ्य लाभ)

Support for breastfeeding is universal among major health and children’s organizations. WHO states, “Breast milk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; breastfeeding is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers.”.

Breastfeeding decreases the risk of a number of diseases in both mothers and babies. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends efforts to promote breastfeeding.

A United Nations resolution promoting breastfeeding was passed despite opposition from the Trump administration. Lucy Sullivan of 1,000 Days, an international group seeking to improve baby and infant nutrition, stated this was “public health versus private profit. What is at stake: breastfeeding saves women and children’s lives. It is also bad for the multibillion-dollar global infant formula and dairy business.”

Breastfeeding benefits for Baby (स्तनपान से शिशु को लाभ)

Early breastfeeding is associated with fewer nighttime feeding problems. Early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby improves breastfeeding outcomes and increases cardio-respiratory stability. Breastfeeding aids general health, growth and development in the infant.

Infants who are not breastfed are at mildly increased risk of developing acute and chronic diseases, including:

  • Lower respiratory infection
  • Ear infections
  • Bacteremia
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Botulism
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis

Breastfeeding may protect against:

  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Lymphoma
  • Allergic diseases
  • Digestive diseases
  • Obesity
  • Development of diabetes or childhood leukemia later in life
  • May enhance cognitive development

Babies that are breastfed are able to recognize being full quicker than infants who are bottle-fed. Breastmilk also makes a child-resistant to insulin, which is why they are less likely to be hypoglycemic. Infants are more likely to have normal neural and retinal development if they are breastfed.

Growth (विकास)

The average breastfed baby doubles its birth weight in 5–6 months. By one year, a typical breastfed baby weighs about 2-1/2 times its birth weight. At one year, breastfed babies tend to be leaner than formula-fed babies, which improves long-run health.

Infections (संक्रमण)

Breast milk contains several anti-infective factors such as bile salt stimulated lipase and lactoferrin.

Exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age helps to protect an infant from gastrointestinal infections in both developing and industrialized countries. The risk of death due to diarrhea and other infections increases when babies are either partially breastfed or not breastfed at all.

Infants who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months are less likely to die of gastrointestinal infections than infants who switched from exclusive to partial breastfeeding at three to four months.

Mortality (मृत्यु-दर)

Babies who receive no breast milk are almost six times more likely to die by the age of one month than those who are partially or fully breastfed.

Childhood obesity (बचपन का मोटापा)

The protective effect of breastfeeding against obesity is consistent, though small, across many studies. A 2013 longitudinal study reported less obesity at ages two and four years among infants who were breastfed for at least four months.

Allergic diseases (एलर्जी के रोग)

In children who are at risk for developing allergic diseases, the atopic syndrome can be prevented or delayed through 4-month exclusive breastfeeding, though these benefits may not persist.

Other health effects (अन्य स्वास्थ्य प्रभाव)

Breastfeeding or introduction of gluten while breastfeeding don’t protect against celiac disease among at-risk children. Breast milk of healthy human mothers who eat gluten-containing foods presents high levels of non-degraded gliadin. Early introduction of traces of gluten in babies to potentially induce tolerance doesn’t reduce the risk of developing celiac disease

About 19% of leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or longer.

Breastfeeding may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease in later life, as indicated by lower cholesterol and C-reactive protein levels in breastfed adult women. Breastfed infants have somewhat lower blood pressure later in life, but it is unclear how much practical benefit this provides.

A 1998 study suggested that breastfed babies have a better chance of good dental health than formula-fed infants because of the developmental effects of breastfeeding on the oral cavity and airway. The report suggested that children with a well rounded, “U-shaped” dental arch, which is found more commonly in breastfed children, may have fewer problems with snoring and sleep apnea in later life. 

Intelligence (बुद्धि)

It is unclear whether breastfeeding improves intelligence (avoids intellectual disability) later in life. Several studies found no relationship after controlling for confounding factors like maternal intelligence. However, other studies concluded that breastfeeding was associated with increased cognitive development in childhood, although the cause may be increased mother-child interaction rather than nutrition.

Breastfeeding benefits for Mother (स्तनपान से माता को लाभ)

Maternal bond (मातृ बंधन)

Hormones released during breastfeeding help to strengthen the maternal bond. Teaching partners how to manage common difficulties is associated with higher breastfeeding rates. Support for a breastfeeding mother can strengthen familial bonds and help build a paternal bond.

Fertility (जननक्षमता)

Exclusive breastfeeding usually delays the return of fertility through lactational amenorrhea, although it does not provide reliable birth control. Breastfeeding may delay the return to fertility for some women by suppressing ovulation.

Mothers may not ovulate, or have regular periods, during the entire lactation period. The non-ovulating period varies by individual. This has been used as natural contraception, with greater than 98% effectiveness during the first six months after birth if specific nursing behaviors are followed.

Bleeding (खून बहना)

While breastfeeding soon after birth is believed to increase uterus contraction and reduce bleeding, high-quality evidence to support this is lacking.

Other (अन्य)

It is unclear whether breastfeeding causes mothers to lose weight after giving birth. The National Institutes of Health states that it may help with weight loss.

For breastfeeding women, long-term health benefits include reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer.

A 2011 review found it unclear whether breastfeeding affects the risk of postpartum depression. Later reviews have found tentative evidence of a lower risk among mothers who successfully breastfeed.

Diabetes Mellitus (मधुमेह)

Breastfeeding of babies is associated with a lower chance of developing diabetes mellitus type 1. Breastfed babies also appear to have a lower likelihood of developing diabetes mellitus type 2 later in life. Breastfeeding is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes among mothers who practice it.

Breastfeeding clothes (स्तनपान कराने वाले कपड़े)

There are numerous options for breastfeeding clothes, which can not be explained here. However, interested persons can look for clothes as well as accessories at

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Breastfeeding Clothes

Conclusion (निष्कर्ष)

We have read the entire mechanism of breastfeeding and numerous benefits. We consider that this article can be a good guide for all newly wedded couples. The numerous health benefits naturally received by both – mother and baby for whole life are always better than avoiding breastfeeding for the sake of status or any other irrelevant reasons. Hence, it is an honest appeal to every mother to adopt breastfeeding, which is the nector, not only for the newborn but also for the mother herself.





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