1. Breastfeeding is the best source of nourishment for newborns and infants. 

Breast milk gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It is readily available and affordable, which helps to ensure that infants get adequate nutrition. Breast milk also contains all the water a baby needs so it's a complete and nutritious diet. 

2. Breast milk gives baby's an immunity boost to help them fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections. 

It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide. 

3. Improved breastfeeding practices could save the lives of 800,000 children annually.  

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year. Globally, less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Adequate breastfeeding counselling and support are essential for mothers and families to initiate and maintain optimal breastfeeding practices. Breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

5. Breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health.

Good nutrition in a child's first 1000 days of life is critical to their health and development long-term. The single act of breastfeeding can ensure children get a healthy start at life. 

Adolescents and adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese. They are less likely to have type-2 diabetes and perform better in intelligence tests. Breastfeeding reduces baby’s risk of disease later in life, including:

  • Type I and II diabetes
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Leukemia
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Asthma
  • Eczema

Breastfeeding also reduces baby’s risk of cavities later on. 

6. Mum's body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby.

Breast milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old). Breast milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.

A mother's breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed.  This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial.

7. Breast milk helps baby and mum sleep. 

Breast milk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies. Breastfeeding also calms mum, helps her sleep well, and helps her bond to baby.

8. Breastfeeding is good for mum, too. 

Breastfeeding reduces mum’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. It helps women return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, and lowers rates of obesity. Breastfeeding helps mum heal faster in the postpartum, helping her uterus return to pre-pregnancy size faster and lowering overall postpartum blood loss.

Source: World Health Organization "10 Facts on Breastfeeding", The Health Foundations Birth Center Blog

World Breastfeeding Week is 1-7 August 2016. This year's theme is Breastfeeding: A key to Sustainable Development. Breastfeeding key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share. 

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