Among infant deaths in the United States, premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) is the leading cause. Often, premature babies suffer long-term health issues such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, chronic lung disease, birth defects and hearing impairment. 15 million babies worldwide are born preterm each year. A preterm birth-related death affects one out of every 10 babies every year. Among children under 5 years of age, it is the leading cause of death worldwide.
The highest risks of preterm birth have those women who:
- Have already given birth prematurely
- Have multiple pregnancies
- Have a special structure of the uterus or cervical abnormalities
According to studies, certain lifestyle choices can increase the risk of premature delivery:
- Insufficient prenatal care
- Alcohol abuse
- Drug use
- Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- Lack of social support
- Long work shift and long standing
- Living in an ecologically unfavorable area
The World Health Organization states: “About 75% of premature babies can be saved by practical, affordable measures, such as providing every mother and baby with essential postnatal care, the provision of antenatal steroids, constant contact between women and their babies, as well as the use of antibiotics to prevent infections”.
It is important to note that breast milk continues to offer mothers and their babies a protective benefit. Children can be protected from several diseases, including acute otitis, gastroenteritis, lower respiratory tract infections, SIDS, atopic dermatitis, asthma, diabetes, obesity, childhood leukemia, and neurocognitive outcomes. Breastfeeding has health benefits for mothers as well, including decreased postpartum bleeding, more rapid uterine involution, decreased menstrual blood loss, increased child spacing (lactational amenorrhea), earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight, and decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. However, it is important to remember that breastfeeding requires an appropriate lifestyle. We provide you with several recommendations regarding the diet and lifestyle of a young mother.
Breastfeeding mothers must have a nutritional balance that is adapted to her eating preferences and habits. WHO recommends sticking to the diet that a woman ate before and during pregnancy. As long as you and your child do not experience negative reactions, enjoy the foods you like.
If some of the baby's close relatives (you, your husband, grandparents) have an allergy or intolerance to any food product, it's better to be excluded from your diet for the first time.
When you notice your child is allergic to a particular product, exclude it from the diet for several weeks, then try to introduce it again.
Taking care of the mother is essential for the baby's welfare, so make use of any opportunity to relax during the day:
sleep with your baby during the daytime
do not hesitate to ask for help from relatives, friends or use the services of housekeepers
walk in the fresh air and communicate with friends and family.
Communication with women who have breastfed their children will benefit a young mother in gaining confidence and in obtaining practical advice to help improve breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the first lesson of love and trust between mom and baby. It's simple and natural. You must keep in mind that your health and your child's are directly influenced by your lifestyle and well-being.