The World Health Organisation (WHO), therefore, recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within an hour after birth until a baby is six months old, after which nutritious complementary foods should be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond. It also said that while instant breastfeeding is very common in East and Southern Africa that is not the case in East Asia and the Pacific, where less than a third of newborns get to drink their mother's milk soon after being born. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breastfeeding report card, at three months of age, only 39 percent of infants are exclusively breastfeeding, and at six months, only 16 percent of babies are still exclusively breastfed. "Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth protects new-born babies from infections and saves lives". Breastfeeding offers significant health benefits for the mother as well, including more rapid recovery from pregnancy, and decreased postpartum depression, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, ovarian and breast cancer.
Inaugurating the World Breast Feeding Week celebration on Wednesday, health minister Mohammad Nasim said that the rate of breastfeeding kinds until they reach age of two was 87 per cent.
"Yet each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons - all too often - are things we can change".
The researchers behind the report state that this delay in initiation of breastfeeding can raise the risk of infant death. This is beneficial for low birth weight babies.
UNICEF has based this report from the data collected from 76 countries.
It also notes that skin-to-skin contact, along with suckling of the breast, stimulates the mother's production of breastmilk, including colostrum, also called the baby's "first vaccine", which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.
According to the WHO/UNICEF report, the presence of a skilled birth attendant does not seem to affect rates of early breastfeeding. Eventually, the baby attaches to the breast and starts feeding.
A new report - jointly published on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, to coincide with the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week- observed mothers in 76 low and middle-income countries.
Hormone levels also vary between mothers who breastfeed and those who don't.
In the report, UNICEF and World Health Organization urge governments to adopt strong legal measures to restrict the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes.
"Initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of life is no easy feat: mothers can not be expected to do it alone", the authors write. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in his statement said, "Breastfeeding gives children the best possible start in life".
"Breastfeeding is vital to a child's lifelong health, and reduces costs for healthcare systems, families and governments", it said.