Breastfeeding: The Basics

What Everyone Should Know about Breastfeeding
Deeksha Sharma
  1. Like all mothers you can successfully breastfeed your baby, which is the most natural way to feed babies.
  2. Breast milk is complete nutrition (i.e. food and drink) for an infant for the first six months of life. During this period, an infant needs exclusive breastfeeding and no other food or drink, not even water, is required.
  3. Newborn babies need to be given to the mother to hold immediately after delivery. They should have skin-to-skin contact with the mother and begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  4. Colostrum, the first yellowish mother's milk that comes during the first 2-3 days after birth is the first immunization. Nothing should be given before the first breastfeed.
  5. Babies should be breastfed unrestrictedly, day and night, and on demand. Breastfeeding the baby frequently causes production of more milk.
  6. Breastfeeding helps protect babies and young children against dangerous illnesses. It also creates a special bond between mother and child. No pacifiers should be given to the babies. You can continue breastfeeding during your or your child's sickness without any harm to the baby and yourself.
  7. Bottle feeding and giving a baby breast milk substitutes such as infant formula or animal milk can threaten the baby’s health and survival. If a woman cannot breastfeed her infant, the baby can be fed expressed breast milk or, if necessary, a quality breast milk substitute from an ordinary clean cup.
  8. A woman employed away from her home can continue to breastfeed her child. She should breastfeed as often as possible when she is with the infant and express her breast milk when they are apart so that another caregiver can feed it to the baby in a clean and safe way.
  9. After 6 months of age, when babies begin to eat foods they need a variety of additional foods. Home-made, family food is better than commercial food for your baby.
  10. Breastfeeding should continue for up to two years and beyond because it is an important source of nutrition, energy and protection from illness.

All women have the right to an environment that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding, including the right to protection from commercial pressures to artificially feed their babies. The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992 as Amended in 2003 (IMS Act) aims to provide the necessary protection by prohibiting the promotion of all breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.

Further reading: 10 facts on breastfeeding: WHO; July 2015


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