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Why It Is Important To Start Breastfeeding Within An Hour Of Birth?




Breastmilk is the best nutrition for your child. It has all the right nutrients, antibodies (for immunity) and different fats and proteins that help with optimal development. It also helps the mother and baby bond together.




Breastfeeding the baby in the first hour of childbirth enhances the good effects in multiple ways:

  1. Initial milk called colostrum is produced at this time and this gives a quick boost to the immunity of your child.
  2. Reduces the chances of your child contracting diseases like sepsis, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
  3. Keeps your baby warm immediately and helps protect against hypothermia
  4. Helps regulate your baby’s heart rate and breathing
  5. Lowers lifelong chances for various diseases
  6. Skin-to-skin contact exposes the baby to good bacteria from the mother’s skin and regulates body temperature.
  7. It helps enhance the bonding between the mother and child and increases the chances of successfully breastfeeding your child


To illustrate the need for early initiation of breastfeeding better, let us give you a statistic. You may be shocked to know that a 2006 study pointed out that 41% of newborns that die in the first month could be saved if they were breastfed in the first hour of life. This is about 4 out of 10 deaths, a very high number.


However, this can be possible in a hospital setting, only with the support of the hospital’s facilities and personnel. With WHO’s initiatives, there is an increased focus on ensuring this practice is widely followed.


Even if you have a Caesarian section, a good hospital will have trained assistants and policies to help your child get the benefits of initial breastfeeding. Most birth attendants are also trained to ensure this practice. You can ask your hospital or doctor about ensuring this, even if they do not suggest it themselves.


Can you give some honey or other food items to your baby first?

This is a widely followed practice, but one that is dangerous for your child. Not only does it increase the chance of potential infection, but it also delays and nullifies the benefits of initial breastfeeding. It is advised to ensure that your baby is given the colostrum or the first milk. An infection called infant botulism is a dangerous condition that can come from feeding your baby honey or other processed foods in the first year after birth. This requires treatment in a hospital.




Remember that ideally, your baby should start breastfeeding within 30 minutes after birth. If 30 minutes is difficult in a caesarian section delivery or otherwise, within a period of 1 hour after birth breastfeeding should be done. This has lasting good effects on the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the child. Your baby should ideally not be given external foods. Breastmilk is enough to guarantee the best growth for your child. Breastmilk protects your baby from infection while other substances can cause the infection and harm your child.

Dr. Aakash Pandita
Paediatric Care
Meet The Doctor
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