In India, as soon as the baby turns six, his/her annaprashan ceremony takes place. It’s a huge celebration in Indian households. Annaprashan is done when a baby is ready to make a transition from a liquid diet to solids. Until then, mother’s milk is considered to be the best and only nutritious diet for an infant. Nowadays, doctors recommend feeding a spoonful of water along with cow’s milk. Earlier, it was not the same. An infant would only get his/her mother’s milk till they turn six months old.
Breastfeeding is considered to be one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses. Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life. Since breastmilk is easily digested it prevents your child from constipation, diarrhea, or upset stomach. Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese, and are less prone to diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancers.
Breastmilk or mother’s milk is the purest milk that a child can have. They can have it whenever and wherever they want. It is always at the right temperature & clean and hence the safest for the child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and continuing even after solid foods are introduced, until at least age 1 year or until both mom and baby agree to call it quits. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old or a longer trusted Source because the benefits continue that long. These agencies recommend starting as early as one hour after birth for the biggest benefits.
In Ayurveda, the procedure of breastfeeding is described as a sanskara of a child which should be started with enchanting mantras. It is advised that the commencement of breastfeeding should be on an auspicious date with proper cleanliness and hygiene. The mother should face in the east direction and start feeding from the right breast to the child by enchanting the mantras. Apart from this, the specific description of a nursing mother is an exceptional quotation in Ayurveda. Ayurveda advocates breastfeeding for a healthy post-pregnancy journey for the mother. It helps in the faster loss of pregnancy weight, burns calories, and releases oxytocin –a hormone that helps return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size.
Sometimes first-time mothers are not able to tackle common breastfeeding challenges such as low milk flow, irritation, breast pain, etc. In such cases, a mother should take care of a few things like avoiding heavy workouts, including fennel seeds, cinnamon, Shatavari, carrots, beetroots, etc. things in her diet. It is extremely important for her to keep herself hydrated as breast milk is almost 90 percent water.
Breastfeeding is said to be a priceless connection between the mother and the infant. In the Sanskrit language, breasts are also termed as pranayatana (where prana resides) as it is the store of nectar for the baby. Nature has designed the breast nearer to the heart so that it can connect the mother and baby emotionally. As they say, mother’s milk is a real gift and blessing to the child in every manner!