World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 - 7

Existence of life starts with air, water and food. A child comes out from his or her mother’s womb and starts crying as a sign of life. Continuation of life is an art of nature that starts with mother’s milk in all breastfed babies; in all species. In the human species, babies are fully dependent on the mother until one year of age because they start walking only after they are a year old. It is well-proven, beyond any doubt, that up to the first 6 months of their life, babies require only breast milk. After 6 months, complementary feeds start. The baby’s gastrointestinal tract will mature only after 4.5 months of age, so it is improper to start anything other than breast milk.


Major Contents

Mature human milk contains 3%--5% fat, 0.8%--0.9% protein, 6.9%--7.2% carbohydrate calculated as lactose, and 0.2% mineral constituents expressed as ash. Its energy content is 60--75 kcal/100 ml.
Premature Human Milk: Premature babies will get Premature Milk.

Other Contents

Millions of live cells. These include immune-boosting white blood cells, as well as stem cells
More than 1,000 proteins. 
Over 200 complex sugars.
More than 40 enzymes.
Growth factors 
Vitamins and minerals 
Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins.
Long-chain fatty acids 
1,400 micro RNAs

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby and Mother

Advantages of colostrum

Colostrum is the first milk produced by the breasts during pregnancy and secreted immediately after delivery. When the baby breastfeeds on colostrum, it is similar to receiving the first vaccination, as colostrum is filled with antibodies and immunoglobulins. It also acts as a laxative and helps the baby pass its first stool that helps in the excretion of bilirubin and prevent jaundice.
Colostrum is also high in protective white cells called leukocytes which defend against microbes.

How is Breast Milk Better than Milk Formula

Breast milk is the baby’s natural food source. It is full of the nutrients required by the baby such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and most importantly antibodies needed to fight infections. Breast milk is also low in fat and unlike formula-fed babies; there are little chances of overfeeding. Breast milk also prepares the baby for different tastes. As the taste of the milk is affected by what the mother consumes, the baby will grow up to be less of a fussy eater. The most important benefit being the immunity breast milk provides. Whenever the baby falls ill, and the infection gets passed on to the mother, her body can prepare antibodies to fight the infection in the baby which is provided through her breast milk.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby

Breastfeeding is the most natural feeding method for babies and has maximum benefits since breast milk has everything babies need in the right quantities. Some of the well-known benefits are:
Complete Source Of Nutrition: Breast milk has the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals that are easier to digest and absorb for the baby.
Boosts Immunity: The colostrum fed to the baby just after birth is packed with antibodies that eradicate several diseases.
Bonding With The Mother: Breastfeeding strengthens the bonding between the mother and the baby; closeness and comfort, making the baby feel safe in the mother’s arms.
Less Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea is less common in breastfed babies than the bottle and formula-fed babies. 
Lowered Risk of SIDS: According to research, breastfed babies have a decreased chance of sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Better Development Of The Brain: Several studies have stated that breastfed babies tend to be smarter and have a higher IQ. 
Lowered Obesity and Diabetes Risk: Bottle-fed babies tend to consume more milk and therefore have a 20 to 30 per cent higher chance of being obese. 
Reduced Risk Of Cancer In Childhood: Studies show that breastfed babies have lowered risk of childhood cancer that develops before the age of 15 years. On the other hand, bottle-fed babies have eight times the risk of childhood cancer.
Lowered Risk Of Heart Disease: High blood pressure problems are less likely to occur in breastfed babies. 

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mother

Emotional Fulfilment and Bonding: Most mothers feel a sense of delight and satisfaction from the emotional bonding that comes out of nursing their babies.
Lowers Risk Of Breast Cancer: Studies show that women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer by as much as 25%. 
Reduces Postpartum Problems: Breastfeeding women recover faster and easier from childbirth as hormones such as oxytocin help the uterus to return to normalcy quicker and reduce postpartum bleeding. The benefits also extend to lowering postpartum blues, and effortlessly losing the weight gained during pregnancy.
Lowers Risk of Ovarian Cancer: Since it delays ovulation, breastfeeding helps prevent ovarian cancer. According to researchers, the risk of cell mutation (which triggers ovarian cancer) is higher when ovulation is frequent.
Natural And Convenient: Breastfeeding always gives fresh milk that is safe and at the right temperature. It also makes it easier to go out with your baby as there’s no need to carry a bag full of supplies.
Cost-Effective: Formula isn’t cost-effective, and depending on the brand prices can be steep.
Convenient For Working Women: Working women who have put their babies in daycare close by can feed them during breaks instead of hassling with formula. If a caretaker is available, a breast pump can be used to draw and store milk to be given to the baby.
Environmentally Friendly: Formula requires storage cans and containers, and their processing consumes energy. Eventually, they generate waste in the form of discarded bottles and packets. 
Technique of Feeding 
If mother and child are comfortable any position can be adopted by the mother while feeding, either sitting or lying. 

Problems faced by the mother while feeding

Inadequate quantity:- It is usually, a wrong concept. If the baby is satisfied and sleeping for 2 to 3 hrs after breastfeeding, passing urine at least 6 to 8 times in 24 hrs and gaining weight, the mother is producing enough milk.
Inverted Nipple, Sore Nipple, Breast engorgement, Breast abscess:- These problems can be corrected with the help of health care providers


Breast milk is an AMRUTH for both baby and Mother. Exclusive breastfeeding is essential until 6 months of age and continuation of feeding for at least 2 years of age. Let us resuscitate the slogan for Breastfeeding Week 2019: 


Written By
Dr Bennet Xylem P (1983 Batch)
Consultant Paediatrician
Coastal Speciality Hospital Valiyathura
email -
Ph: 9447230557


The composition of human milk. Seminars in Perinatology1979 Jul;3(3):225-39. Jenness R. (Pub Med)
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Babies and Mothers By Aliya Khan February 8, 2018 (First Cry)
GHAI Essential Paediatrics 8th edition


Dr Jasmin lb (associate professor(cap) Rio Trivandrum
Dr Simi Gopalakrishnan (Junior consultant Paediatrics coastal speciality hospital Valiyathura)