Breast feeding enriches the bond between mother and child. Though breast feeding is a personal choice it gives a healthy start to the baby.
Exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months of life provides all the nutrition required for the healthy development of the baby.
Beyond 6 months breast milk should be supplemented with solids for adequate nutrition, however breast feeding should continue.
Research shows that breast feeding decreases the risk for both pre and post-menopausal breast cancer. Breast feeding delays menstruation and hence exposure to estrogen which is responsible for breast cancer.
Shedding of breast cells during pregnancy and lactation removes cell with DNA damage, decreasing the risk of cancer.
Lactation also may alter the genes in breast cells making them more resistant to cancerous change. Breast feeding for 6 months decreases the risk of breast cancer by 2%. Lactation beyond 6 months provides additional protection.
For every cumulative period of 12 months of breast feeding (one or multiple children) the risk of breast cancer reduces by 4.3%.
Breast feeding also deceases the risk for ovarian cancer by preventing ovulation and also reduces type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Children breast fed for 6 months or longer have a lower risk for leukaemia, infection, dental problems, and obesity in later life.
Breast feeding strengthens the baby’s immune system as antibodies pass from mother to child decreasing respiratory, gastrointestinal and ear infections. It also reduces allergies in children.