How Crucial It Is To Breastfeed Within One Hour Of Birth?

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Your baby is born with the sucking reflex, which means they have the ability to suckle and drink breast milk even before they are born. Breast milk is considered the best food for your newborn. Not only does it have nutritional qualities, it is packed with antibodies that will protect your little one in the coming days of their lives.

A study published in Pediatrics found that 41% of newborns lose their lives in the first month of birth, which could otherwise be saved if the babies were breastfed in the first hour of their birth.

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According to World Health Organization (WHO), breastmilk is the source of all nutrients a baby needs until he/she is 6 months old.[ref]Early initiation of breastfeeding to promote exclusive breastfeeding.World Health Organization[/ref] Breast milk protects the baby from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea.

The baby must be in skin-to-skin contact with the mother immediately after they are born. It also increases the likelihood that babies will continue feeding—this reduces the possible risk of malnutrition which claims the lives of 3 million children each year.

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When babies are born, they are alert and their senses are more active. They can see and remember their mother’s face, they become alert on hearing their mother’s voice, their sense of smell guides them to their mother’s breasts. They are sensitive towards mother’s touch and the taste of breastmilk.

When they are in skin-to-skin contact with their mother, the warmth and comfort they receive regulate their heartbeat and they don’t feel the pain anymore from the trauma of the birth.

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Colostrum is the first form of milk that a mother’s body produces during pregnancy. It is already present and stored in the ducts before the delivery. Some moms don’t even come to know about it while others leak a little milk as they get closer to their due date—this is common and can be managed by wearing a good maternity bra.

Though the quantity of this milk is lesser, it has high nutritional value. The antibodies in colostrum develop the baby first immunization and regulate their own developing immune system.[ref]BREASTFEEDING – THE REMARKABLE FIRST HOUR OF LIFE.unicef]/ref]

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Colostrum stimulates bowel movement, which contributes to the removal of meconium from the baby’s digestive tract and reduces the severity of jaundice in babies. It also promotes the functioning of your baby’s gut.

Mothers are always encouraged to feed their babies in the first hour of their life. It not only benefits the baby but also stimulates lactation and prevents excess loss of blood in them. Suckling and touching by the baby stimulate the release of oxytocin in the mother’s body. Oxytocin helps the uterus contract and promotes in the delivery of the placenta and decreases bleeding.

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Breastfeeding also helps the mother feel relaxed and calm and in turn stimulates the flow of milk. Breastfeeding and having a skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth contributes to bonding between mother and the baby—mothers experience an enhanced emotion of love and attachment towards their newborns as the oxytocin is released in the body.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has laid few guidelines about breastfeeding in the first hour after the baby is born.

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1. Mothers should be provided with appropriate and supportive labor companionship.

2. The baby should be dried quickly, but the vernix or natural white cream shouldn’t be removed.

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3. After the birth, the baby should be immediately kept on the mother’s chest, facing her to skin-to-skin contact and the duo should be covered for warmth.

4. The baby shouldn’t be forced onto the breast—let them seek the breast. The mother can position the baby close to the nipple.

5. The mother and baby should be kept in this position until they breastfeed for the first time and even for later if the mother wants.

6. Even after a cesarean, the skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth shouldn’t be avoided.

7. The baby should be weighed, measured and attended to only after the first feed.

8. No medication or feeds apart from the breast milk should be given to the baby unless medically necessary.

Breastfeeding in the first hour is crucial for you as well as your little one that shouldn’t be skipped at any cost.