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Breastfeeding benefits mother and child

Amother, Ms Nong, is very happy to have given birth to her first daughter safely last week. She does not, though, have any experience on how to breastfeed her daughter. To solve this problem, a nurse assists her by pushing her daughter's head towards her breast suck the mothers' Colostrum, which is the milk the mother produces on the first few days after giving birth. This was the health advice she received from the medical staff at Setthathirath Hospital, which was where she gave birth to her daughter last week.

A nurse helps a mother how to breastfeed in the hospital.

The medical team has also advised her to continue to exclusively breastfeed her daughter until she reaches the age of six months.

A resident of Nonghay village, Hadxaifong district, she said that she would strictly follow the advice from the medical staff to breastfeed her daughter in this way.

According to the Centre of Information and Education for Health which is under the Ministry of Health, they are promoting mothers to hold their babies so that both mother and baby are in skin contact as soon as they are born and the mother starts breastfeeding from the very first moment of their lives.

In Laos, about 44 percent of children under the age of five years of age are stunted, which means that they are shorter than they should be for their age. The rate is as high as 60 percent in some areas.

This year's World Breastfeeding Week theme is “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together”. Even when mothers are able to get off to a good start, all too often in the weeks and months after their child is born there is a sharp decline in breastfeeding rates and practices, particularly in the practice of exclusively breastfeeding their baby. The period when mothers do not visit a healthcare facility is the time when a community support system for mothers is essential.

Continued support to sustain breastfeeding rates can be provided in a variety of ways. Traditionally, support is provided by the family. As societies change, however, in particular with urbanisation, support for mothers from a wider circle is needed. The support for mothers can be provided by trained health workers, lactation consultants, community leaders, or from friends who are also mothers, and/or from fathers/partners. The key to best breastfeeding practices is continued day-to-day support for the breastfeeding mother within her home and community.

Breastfeeding continues to be important for children's nutrition, development and care after the first six months of life. On average, breastfed babies of 6-8 months of age obtain around 70 percent of their energy needs from breast milk, this falls around 55 percent at 9-11 months, and 40 percent at 12-23 months. Breast milk is also a major provider of protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and protective factors. It provides more calories and nutrients than most of the other foods, and much more than the soft cereals.

According to the National Nutrition Centre's recent survey, 95 percent of Lao females feed breast milk to their children. More than 70 percent of children have consumed colostrum. The colostrum rich in protein, secreted by the mother's mammary glands for several days just after giving birth.

Breastfeeding benefits both mother and child. Most children who drink milk from mother's breast have good memory skills when they grow up and attend school.

Breastfeeding helps the immune-system of the baby because breast milk consists of the five groups of food that the human body demands. They are at a lower risk of having various diseases such as asthma, diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal infections.

Breastfeeding prevents diarrhoea and pneumonia in babies. If everyone in Lao breastfeeds, some 794 babies' lives can be saved each year.

A mother who feeds milk to their babies from their breast, benefits themselves by helping them to protect themselves against postpartum haemorrhages, ovarian and breast cancers. It also helps with the spacing of their children.

In addition, during the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week from August 1 to August 7, World Health Organisation has stated that breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until the baby is six months of age and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.




By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 5, 2017)

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