Breast milk gives your child immunity from diseaseshttps://indianexpress.com/article/parenting/health-fitness/breast-milk-child-immunity-diseases-5289866/

Breast milk gives your child immunity from diseases

Colostrum, also referred to as “high octane milk”, is produced in low quantities in the first few days of postpartum. When the baby breast-feeds on colostrums, it is similar to receiving the first vaccinations.

breast milk, breast feeding week
Breast milk contains an ideal mix of nutrients for the baby. (Source: Dreamstime)

Nutritionally, breast milk is viewed as the reference diet of infants younger than six months of age. Mothers are advised to start weaning after the age of six months and to continue breastfeeding at least for one year.

By Dr Seema Khanna

Breast milk provides optimal nutrition to babies. It has the right amount of nutrients, is easy to digest, readily available and most sterile for the newborn. Human milk contains thousands of distinct bioactive molecules (lactoferrin) that protect against infection and inflammation, contribute to immune maturation, organ development and healthy microbial colonisation. Breast milk changes in composition from colostrums that are thick and yellowish in colour to normal yellowish white thin milk.

Colostrum, the first milk, is ideal for immunity

Colostrum also referred as “high octane milk” is produced in low quantities in the first few days of postpartum. When the baby breast-feeds on colostrums, it is similar to receiving the first vaccinations. Colostrum is filled with antibodies and immunoglobulin. It acts as a laxative which help the baby pass his/her first stool through which bilirubin is excreted preventing jaundice. While in the womb, a baby gets immunoglobulin G (Ig G) through placenta, which fights against diseases.

Breastfeeding the baby works like a contraceptive measure for the mother. During this period, the process of ovulation is suppressed. Colostrums give the baby another antibody that is immunoglobulin A (Ig A), which protects the baby in the areas such as throat, lung and intestine.

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Breast milk is filled with nutrients

Nutritionally, breast milk is viewed as the reference diet of infants younger than six months of age. Mothers are advised to start weaning after the age of six months and to continue breastfeeding at least for one year.

The composition of breast milk changes according to the age and needs of the baby.  Breast milk contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals, but lacks in vitamin D and thus drops are usually recommended from the age of two to four weeks.

Breastfeed is the most sterilised food for the baby preventing him/her from water-borne infections. It reduces your baby’s risk of many diseases including allergy, celiac disease and diabetes mellitus in coming years of life.

These infants are more intelligent than formula-fed infants. Now, it is incredibly important to eat healthy while breastfeeding. Your needs for most of the nutrients are increased in order to meet the demands of you and your baby. Healthy eating will also give you energy you need to take care of yourself and your baby. Eating healthy foods more of protein rich foods may help you shed the pregnancy weight faster.

The mother needs a wholesome diet

A mother needs to eat all groups of nutrients: proteins, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. These are contained in foods such as almonds, fish, poultry, cottage cheese and milk. Intake of minerals and vitamins is regulated through consumption of fruits, leafy greens.

Complex carbohydrates in complex form should be inculcated in the diet as they increase the time of absorption to control the body weight. These include whole wheat , brown rice and maize flour among others. As a rule of thumb, fibre and water intake should be increased to avoid constipation and maintain the consistency of milk. The mother undergoes poldypsia as well due to increased oxytocin secretion.

Breast-feeding increases your energy needs by 500 calories per day. More calories can be induced through proteins and carbohydrates instead of fats.

Additionally, avoid processed foods, sugars and unhealthy fats as much as possible due to their increased contribution toward the caloric intake.

My wholesome suggestion is to eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods to meet the increased nutrient needs that accompany breast feeding.

(The writer is a nutritionist.)