August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. There is scientific evidence that shows that breast milk is the best food for babies during the early period of their lives. There are benefits for the baby, the mother, the family, the community and the environment.
Breast milk is served from the original container and is portable, and mothers’ milk does not need heated or cooled before a baby can take it.
Babies who are breastfed have enhanced nutrition, immunological protection, and increased growth and development. There will also be less likelihood of allergies and tooth decay. Babies who are breastfed tend to have a healthier development, with long-term positive effects on cognitive and intellectual development. Science has shown that these babies tend to have higher IQs as adults than formula fed babies.
Breastfeeding is also the perfect time to bond with a new baby and to foster the development of an attachment relationship. Mothers also enjoy physical, emotional and psychological benefits from breastfeeding their babies. There is decreased risk that women who have breastfed will develop breast or ovarian cancer later in life. Breastfeeding can help to reduce levels of stress for the mother.
One of the most important primary preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her baby is to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months. Being supported by their families, friends, communities, healthcare providers, and the public helps mothers to start and continue to breastfeed.
For more information, please contact the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute at (306) 651-4300.