Breastfeeding and the developing brain.

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Many have wondered what the fuss is about.

Health care providers appear to be insensitive about the stress and the commitments that it takes to breastfeed. Ranging from consistent availability irrespective of the social and professional demands on a woman or what day and time it’s needed. The truth is, they really do care about you, your baby, and a healthier world.

As good as some reasons may sound, you would agree that none is good enough to miss out on this opportunity to achieve maximum physical and mental growth that has freely presented itself to this child you love so dearly. Those earlier months are strategic particularly in terms of rapid brain development. It’s said that “a stitch in time saves nine”, we say “adequate exclusive breastfeeding saves the brain”.

It’s said that “a stitch in time saves nine”, we say “adequate exclusive breastfeeding saves the brain”.

During pregnancy, the mother’s body begins to assume certain changes including the presence of some hormones in preparation for what is to come. It has been proven time and time again that breastfeeding in the initial six-months increases the chances of thriving through childhood and adolescence and it has been directly linked to higher intelligence levels and academic performance.

It is fascinating to know that as the child grows through every stage, the components of the breastmilk change every day to suit the child’s specific nutritional and antibody needs.

There are special components that enable proper linkages between different parts of the brain starting out your child’s speech, motor, and intellect. It contains the perfect proportions of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fluid, ready on demand. As of today, there’s yet to be an effective substitute despite many attempts to. Let’s say it is the creator’s customized gift to every child and it is a necessary requirement for optimal growth.

As the child sucks, the mother’s brain sends certain signals which result in reduced production of stress hormones, this helps the mother cope better with the demands of motherhood. Breastfeeding also ignites the reward circuit of the brain and hence there is an increased sense of fulfillment the mother experiences when she does. Breastfeeding has been shown to significantly increase mother-child bonding and mother’s capacity for empathy which is a core of motherhood. The benefits truly are sure inexhaustible.

Sadly, despite how cost-effective breast milk is, millions of children do not have access to it. What is more disconcerting is the future implications that may yet arise from this missed opportunity. Many children have been greatly deprived of the privilege of optimal brain development.

It is another breastfeeding campaign week. We cannot say it enough cos there’s a time to it.

Missing out on this strategic phase of a child’s brain development is a time lost forever. Breastfeeding is sure an investment worth giving to the child you love so dearly.
Happy Breastfeeding awareness week.

Tosin Daropale writes from JABU

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