Breastfeeding is known for its great benefits for both the mother and the baby, as breastmilk is considered to be a comprehensive food source for the infant.
In addition to helping in the growth process as well as offering protection from diseases and infections, breastfeeding helps build a strong relationship between the mother and her child, making the infant feel loved and cared for.
Given the importance of breastfeeding, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) celebrate World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7, every year, to galvanize young mothers and healthcare professionals into action and encourage breastfeeding all over the world.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the child
Dr. May Al-Sammak, Family Medicine Specialist at PHCC’s Madinat Khalifa Health Center, said that breastfeeding has innumerable benefits for the child; mother's milk is the ideal food for the infant, especially in their first two years of life, as it contains all the important nutrients necessary for the baby’s growth. It also helps in developing and improving the performance of the baby’s digestive system, protecting the child from constipation, diarrhea and other disorders that may occur in the first few months of the infant's life.
Breast milk also contains antibodies that protect the baby from several diseases, especially colds, and can help to prevent chronic diseases, not only during childhood but also later in life.
Breastfeeding protects against type 1 diabetes and other types of allergic diseases, such as skin allergies, and is known to reduce the risk of obesity as well as help in the proper growth and development of the child’s organs, the jaw and the auditory and visual systems.
Breastfeeding is also known to help in the healthy development of the brain as it raises the child’s level of intelligence. Furthermore, it helps calm the baby, leading to better sleep.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother
Dr. Al-Sammak went on to add, “Whether they have given birth naturally or by caesarean section, mothers who breastfeed generally recover faster after childbirth, as it is known to help them get rid of accumulated weight and reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.”
Breastfeeding at night also helps mothers relax, reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and rheumatism in the joints, as well as that of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure. Furthermore, it can delay the menstrual cycle from three to six months, something considered to be a form of natural birth control.
Great interest in breastfeeding
PHCC pays great attention to breastfeeding because of its many benefits for both the infant and the mother, recommending breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of the infant’s life and then continuing breastfeeding combined with other types of food.
In fact, given the importance PHCC attaches to breastfeeding, it has taken several positive steps in support of breastfeeding, such as providing private places at all of its Health Centers so that mothers can breastfeed their infants while visiting.
It also offers education, support and assistance on breastfeeding, especially in the event of any difficulties, for both pregnant women and new mothers during their check-up appointments at its Health Centers, where it distributes many informative pamphlets and brochures that answer the sort of questions typically posed by mothers who breastfeed or wish to breastfeed.
PHCC also celebrates World Breastfeeding Week by organizing lectures and participating in national campaigns in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health and its affiliated institutions.
Training of medical personnel
While dedicated to organizing the training courses necessary for the medical staff who provide care to pregnant women and mothers, PHCC also works to encourage breastfeeding by taking positive action to prevent any advertising campaigns for infant formula in its Health Centers.
In view of the many advantages of breastfeeding and its importance to both the mother and the child, PHCC advises supporting and encouraging mothers to continue breastfeeding and to seek help and support from doctors or health educators whenever needed.