More than half of newborns not breastfed within the first hour, says UNICEF

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Most of them are also unaware that delaying the start of breastfeeding increases the risk of death for these infants.

Did you know that breastfeeding newborn babies within the first hour of birth is very crucial to their health? As it turns, most mothers don’t, because more than half of newborns aren’t being feed during this time frame.

Most of them are also unaware that delaying the start of breastfeeding increases the risk of death for these infants.

At least that’s what UNICEF Senior Nutrition Adviser France Bégin said in a press release.

"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.”

The press release also states that a delay of two to 23 hours increases death risk in the first 28 days of life by 40 percent. If the delay reaches 24 hours or more, the risk doubles.

According to a Forbes report, there are two primary reasons why this delay happens.

First is the lack of skilled attendants during childbirth. The second is the preference for cow's milk, sugar water or infant formula to feed babies during the first three days of a baby's life.

Called “From the First hour of Life,” the UNICEF report says that there is "enormous potential for skilled birth attendants to better support women in initiating breastfeeding immediately after birth - to not take advantage of this is a missed opportunity.”

Meanwhile, feeding other liquids that isn’t breast milk reduces a mother' milk, which then makes supply of breast milk harder to establish and maintain.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding within the first hour? Read on!

Breastfeeding within the first hour

There is a cornucopia of benefits that breastfeeding within the first hour brings. According to a Better Health article, here are some of them:

  • It makes the mother more confident that she can breastfeed.
  • The baby starts to receive the immunological effects of colostrum (the first breastmilk, which provides protection against infection and disease).
  • The baby’s digestion and bowels are stimulated.
  • Sucking difficulties may be avoided if the baby feeds properly at this stage.
  • The bond between mother and child is established and enhanced

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