Breastfeeding can be defined as the practice of a mother feeding a toddler or infant with that milk formed from her mammary glands, generally directly from the breasts' nipples. Naturally the infants have got the instinct of suckling that enables them get the milk out of the breasts. Most of the mothers choose to breastfeed their babies but some do not, either due to medical or personal reasons. Breastfeeding is one ways through which some diseases and medicines can be transmitted from the mother to the baby. For instance, it is not advisable for the HIV positive mothers to breastfeed their babies because there is a likelihood of the babies getting infected with the virus. The mothers who are on medication are also advised not to breastfeed their babies for a while because the chemical composition of the drugs in the milk will be high and therefore dangerous to the baby. As it has been seen, breast milk is very important for a baby (Riordan, 2005).
Breastfeeding is very beneficial both psychologically and physically. Antibodies and nutrients are passed from the mother to the baby who by the time has not developed immunity to a better extent. The act of breastfeeding also releases hormones into the system of the mother such that the mother will relax and attain the nurturing feelings for her baby. It is true that the bond between the mother and her baby becomes stronger during breastfeeding. Breast milk is very important for the baby since it can decrease some risks like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The technique of suckling that is required of the baby enhances the proper development of speech organs and teeth. Breast milk also protects the baby against gastroenteritis, diabetes, diarrhea, allergies, eczema, urinary tract infections, ear infections, chest infections, attention-deficit, and obesity. By recent studies, it has been seen that those children who were breastfed well have higher IQ as compared to those who were not breastfed. The energy requirement of babies for their rapid growth requires that they should be adequately breastfed since breast milk has got sufficient nutrients and antibodies for immunity (Midwives, 2002).
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Since the baby depends on the mother's milk, the mother is advisable to feed on sensible diet that should have all the required nutrients in appropriate proportions. The breastfeeding mothers should eat a variety of food which can constitute a balanced diet because the milk will retain the same nutrients and therefore the baby end up getting all the necessary nutrients for growth. The mother should eat more energy giving foods and also those foods rich in calcium since a lot of calcium and sugar is needed in the milk production process. It is advisable for the mother to take plenty of fluids because the chief requirement for milk production is water. In the cases when the mother is sick and is on medication the baby can be fed on baby formula. The baby formula is good but it does not contain the antibodies needed to protect the body and in most cases, lack of hygienic conditions can lead to a baby contracting infections and therefore diarrhea. If the usage conditions of the formula can be observed adequately then the formula can also do well (Lauwers & Swisher, 2010).
Breastfeeding is important for both mother and baby. The mother develops a sense of nurturing for her baby and the bond between the mother and the baby becomes stronger due to breastfeeding. The baby gets the perfect diet that is needed for rapid growth and as well the baby gets antibodies from the mother for immunity purposes. Depending on the conditions in which the baby formula is used, it is also a good alternative for feeding a baby. But in most cases it is misused leading to infected babies.