What is the Neonatal Period?
The neonatal period is the time between birth to 1 month. It is a time of extensive and ongoing system transition from the uterine environment to the external world. The World Health Organization in 2011 reported that nearly 40% of all deaths of children five years of age and younger occurred during the neonatal period. In this short article, we will briefly share five important facts about breastfeeding during this crucial period for you to know.
1. Colostrum is present in the first three days
Colostrum, the first milk a mother produces when starting breastfeeding, is the ideal nourishment for a newborn. It’s highly concentrated, full of protein, and nutrient-dense. It’s also low in fat and easy to digest. Colostrum plays a crucial role in building his immune system. Up to two-thirds of the cells in colostrum are white blood cells that guard against infections.
Colostrum acts like a laxative that makes a newborn baby poo frequently. The laxative properties of colostrum help the baby flush out bilirubin in his or her poo, preventing jaundice from occurring. Vitamin A is essential for a baby’s vision. Vitamin A deficiency is a significant cause of blindness worldwide.
Besides the other mineral-rich contents of the colostrum, colostrum has a similar makeup to the amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid is the fluid the baby has been swallowing and excreting in the womb. It eases his transition to the outside world.
2. Breastfeeding in the neonatal period fight infection
About a third of all 3.1 million deaths among babies during the neonatal period in the year 2008. It occurred due to a preventable infection. A well-known prevention strategy to fight infection in newborns is breastfeeding. The immune system of the newborn is of small size. It expands rapidly, primarily due to the exposure to the gut microflora from the mother. Frequently the newborn is colonized with microbes from the mother’s intestinal flora at and after delivery. There are many defense factors in the mother’s milk. It includes large amounts of secretory IgA antibodies which have migrated from the mother’s intestine to the mammary glands that produce breastmilk. This sIgA becomes concentrated in the mucous lining of the baby’s gut and respiratory system, protecting him against illnesses the mother has already experienced.
3. A positive relationship between neonatal breastfeeding and neurodevelopment.
Studies show that breastfed premature babies had better psychomotor development at 2 or 5 years of age than non-breastfed children, even if they caught up with non-breastfed children at 3.
4. Neonatal breastfeeding can prevent childhood obesity
Studies showed that breastfeeding in the neonatal period is associated with long-term effects on childhood BMI growth that extend beyond infancy into early and late childhood. Breastfeeding in the neonatal period provides a critical opportunity to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.
5. The transition from colostrum to mature milk
After two to four days, mature milk will form. The breasts will feel firmer and fuller, and instead of colostrum, they’ll produce transitional milk, which is whiter in color and creamier in texture.
MashaAllah! Breastfeeding gives a lot of benefits to a baby, even if the baby is being breastfed for a short time. It is not only due to its immediate effect but also for the long-term benefits. In Islam, breastfeeding is the right of a baby. Allaah had enjoined breastfeeding in the Quran when He said (interpretation of the meaning): “The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling” [al-Baqarah 2:233].
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