There is a renewed call to promote the importance of breastfeeding in the first hour after birth with research showing that one in two babies are not put to the breast within an hour of birth.
The promotion of the “early initiation of breastfeeding” is seen to be beneficial in providing newborns essential nutrients, antibodies and skin-to-skin contact with their mother that protect them from disease and death.
This week, World Breastfeeding Week, has seen UNICEF call for worldwide greater understanding of the benefits of this crucial hour and that vital first feed – so important it is being called baby’s ‘first vaccine.’
Watch Alyssa Milano promptly shut down this talk show host’s anti-breastfeeding nonsense. Post continues below.
“Making babies wait too long for the first critical contact with their mother outside the womb decreases the newborn’s chances of survival, limits milk supply and reduces the chances of exclusive breastfeeding,”
“If all babies are fed nothing but breastmilk from the moment they are born until they are six months old, over 800,000 lives would be saved every year.”
Globally, only 43 per cent of infants under six months old are exclusively breastfed. Babies who are not breastfed at all are 14 times more likely to die than those who are fed only breastmilk.
Delaying breastfeeding by two to 23 hours after birth increases the risk of a baby dying in its first month by 40% and delaying by 24 hours or more increases the risk of a baby dying to 80%.
Data from UNICEF has shown that progress in getting more newborns breastfed within the first hour of life has been slow over the past 15 years – particularly in areas of sub-Saharan Africa where under-five mortality rates are the highest worldwide.
Even in South Asia, where the rates of early breastfeeding initiation tripled in 15 years, from 16 per cent in 2000 to 45 per cent in 2015, the increase is far from enough 21 million newborns still wait too long before they are breastfed.