Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for babies. It has a perfect mix of protein, fat and vitamin and is a complete food in itself. Medical authorities strongly recommend exclusive breast feeding for first six months for a baby.
Breast feeding has immense benefits for the baby and the mother. It contains antibodies that help develop immunity and fights various bacteria and viruses. Breast feeding lowers your babies risk of having allergies, respiratory diseases, asthma and diarrhea.
Breast feeding has also been linked to higher IQ at later age, though it may or may not be true. But, breast feeding helps in forming a bond between the mother and the baby. It helps your baby feel secure and works as touch therapy. Breast feeding also reduces 'Sudden infant death syndrome' and also lowers risks of fatal diseases like cancer as well.
Breast feeding has numerous positives for the mother as well. It releases the hormone Oxytocin, which helps your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state. It also reduces uterine bleeding after birth. A women who breast feeds has less chances of having Breast and Ovarian cancer, compared to the women who chooses otherwise. It is always advisable to breast feed for a short time than no time at all.
A baby may feed upto 12- 15 times a day, that is every two to three hours. Watch signs of hunger and feed the baby "on demand". Generally, infants nurse around 12- 15 minutes each time.
There are certain conditions which forbids breast feeding the baby, incase you are HIV positive or having TB as the infection could be passed to the baby via breast milk.Consult your doctor if you have any such conditions.
Making a decision to breast feed is a matter of personal choice. WHO strongly recommends breast feeding. Make this time a 'special' you and your baby and form a strong bond of love.