The Benefits Of Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding is recognized as the best source of natural nutrition for most infants. It provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life. It continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year. Breastfeeding offers numerous health benefits to both the mother and infant. The infant continues to reap the many benefits of being breastfed well into adulthood. Breastfeeding lowers rates of developing various chronic diseases in adulthood. Breastfeeding reduces childhood mortality and it is recommended to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of life. Breastfeeding provides children with a nutrition head start for success in life and …show more content…
It is highly recommended that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life. During this time, infants do not need any additional foods or fluids unless medically necessary. The WHO recommends that breastfeeding is continued until an infant is two years old or beyond. They state that optimal breastfeeding is so crucial that it could save the lives of over 800,000 children under the age of five annually (World Health Organization, 2016). The United States Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 goals are the latest science-based, 10-year national objective plan for improving the nation’s health. Healthy People 2020 increased existing targets for breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and duration. The Healthy People 2020 document recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding, while continuing to breastfeeding after the introduction of foods for the first year of life and greater. The Healthy People 2020 document increased the percentages of women who breastfeed up to 60.6% at six months and 34% breastfeeding at one year (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, …show more content…
Mothers who begin breastfeeding directly after childbirth have less postpartum bleeding than women who do not breastfeed (Salam et al., 2014). Oxytocin, a hormone that is released after continuous suckling of the baby, sends a signal to the breast to produce milk and for the uterus to begin contracting (Eastin & Sharma, 2015). The contractions result in a reduced amount of vaginal bleeding of the uterus as well as the uterus returning to its original size. Oxytocin has been associated with the reduction of blood pressure in breastfeeding women. The release of the hormone produces calm feelings and allows maternal bonding with the infant, and this reduces the mother’s blood pressure. Maternal blood pressure remains lower with continued breastfeeding at six months and stays lowered even after breastfeeding ends. Mothers who do not breastfeed are at an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, along with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, and

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