Breastfeed is the best feed. Breast Milk is one of the wonders of divine procreation. Nothing can stand equal to the breast milk. The baby’s contact with the mother initiates and propels breast milk, which is quite essential for the baby’s physical and mental growth.
Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months is mandatory; it may be extended up to two years, along with other food supplement. There are three stages of breast milk. First 2-4 days post-delivery, it is called Colostrum. The next 10 days is transitional milk, later the milk is known as mature milk. Colostrum contains 20 specific antibodies to fight against organisms; also has immunoglobulin, PRP (Protein Rich Polypeptide) Lactoferrin (which helps fight Cancer) and several other enzymes.
It also contains IGF (Insulin Growth Factor), EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor), TGF (Transforming Growth Factor) and vitamin A, D, C and E.
Breast milk therefore lowers the risk of Diabetes, Asthma, Eczema, Dental Problems, Psychological Disorders, Middle Ear Infections, Cold and Flu. It also helps in increased intelligence and decreased sudden infant death.
Contents of Breast Milk
Proteins – 1.1 gm
Casein – 2%
Whey – 80% (Lactalbumin and Lactoferrin)
Lactose – 7 gm
Fat- 4.5 gm
Essential fatty acids- 13 %
Minerals- 0.25 gm
Sodium- 0.7 m Eq
Calcium: Potassium ratio – >2
Vitamin K- 15 mgm
Vitamin E- 7 gm osm
Energy protein ratio- 70:1
Calories- 67 cals
Ayurveda profoundly describes the importance of breast milk and further explains the qualities of ideal breast milk, various tests to examine its quality, the qualities of an ideal breastfeeding mother, measures to increase the breast milk, features and reasons for vitiated breast milk and the diseases occurring due to vitiated milk, substitutes for breast milk and much more.
Vaghbhatacharya opines that milk which mixes completely in water forming a homogeneous mixture is ideal for the baby.
Acharya Kasyapa says that the breast milk, which imparts unimpaired strength to the body parts, provides longevity together with comfortable state of child as well as mother is the ideal one. The ideal breast milk is sweet in taste with the smell of honey.
One among the most alarming condition for a neonate’s nutrition is failure of lactation. The various reasons listed for deficiency or loss of breast milk in the mother is;
1. Sokam and Krodham, that is, grief and anger
2. Aayasam- bodily exertion
3. Swabhavam- by nature
4. Getting pregnant soon after delivery
5. Emaciating therapies
6. Lack of sufficient stimuli, that is psychic, seeing, memories, affections or somatic, ie touching or holding the body
7. Reasons for vitiation of breast milk are
• Incompatible foods
• Being hungry
• Vitiation of bodily tissue of mother
Mother should take a comprehensive breastfeeding supplement to help deliver vitamins, minerals and nutrition that are important for healthy and plentiful breast milk production. Our ancestors strongly recommended breastfeeding. To support the lactating mother they recommended the use of Vidaryadi Ghrutham, Vidaryadi Leham, Stanyajananarasayanam and Ajaswagandhadi Leham.