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Working wonders for child and mother


Breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon that works wonders both for mother and child. Despite this, in India, only 44% of the children are exclusively breastfed, a number which is smaller than what it ideally should be. WHO and UNICEF recommend exclusive breastfeeding within the first one-hour postdelivery and for the first 6 months. It is a proven fact that continued breastfeeding for 2 years or beyond serves numerous health benefits.

Impact of inadequate breastfeeding for India 

The nutritional well-being of a nation is both an outcome and an indicator of national development. The incidence of infant fatalities can be reduced three times by starting breastfeeding early. Despite strong evidence supporting immediate and long-term health benefits of timely initiation of breastfeeding, in India, only two-fifth (44%) of children receive breastfeeding within the first 1 hour of their birth. Experts have linked the initiation of breastfeeding to a significant reduction in total infant mortality.

Children who are not exclusively or sufficiently breastfed are immunocompromised and are more susceptible to pneumonia, diarrhoea, and other disease-causing microbes. Improving child development and reducing healthcare costs through breastfeeding can show results in economic savings for individual families as well as at the national level.

Breastfeeding can help improve and save lives

Over the years, breastfeeding is also evolving into a lifestyle choice. Breastfeeding can delay several lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and others. While people mostly talk about the benefits of breastfeeding for a child, new mothers can benefit immensely. Shedding pregnancy weight becomes much easier when mothers start to breastfeed their children. Secondly, the uterus, which gets enlarged during pregnancy, comes back to normal size and shape sooner for those who exclusively breastfeed their child. Thirdly, postpartum depression can also be handled well by breastfeeding mothers. And lastly, medical professionals opine that breastfeeding can lower the incident of breast and ovarian cancer.

Policies and social behaviour change can promote breastfeeding

Low cost infant food supplies do not bring in the guarantee of purity offered by mother’s milk. The Government and healthcare intermediaries need to continue spreading awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. In many hospitals and nursing home, mothers are introduced to the concept of formula feeding their child. Awareness initiatives and educative campaigns must be put in place to let people know the benefits of breastmilk. Babies should be fed “colostrum”, which is highly nutritious, has anti-infective properties and high source of protein.

Midwives and nurses can support the cause

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is to ‘Step up for breastfeeding: Educate and Support’. Therefore, it becomes imperative to educate the nurses and midwives, the key personnel who provide direct prenatal, perinatal, postpartum, and early childhood care for women and children. They are present in a range of places, such as hospitals, clinics, and communities.

All midwives and nurses must be equipped with the right information to stress the immense value of breastfeeding, offer new mothers’ support, and safeguard them against behaviours that might prevent breastfeeding. With sufficient training, midwives and nurses can also assist mothers with breastfeeding expertly when complex issues emerge.

Healthcare industry has been actively taking initiatives, understanding the growing need to emphasise on education and training of nurses. At Emcure, we have launched Saheli, a nationwide awareness and training program on breastfeeding for nurses. If they are well informed and educated on the techniques, issues like sore nipples and latching problems can be resolved, making breastfeeding comfortable for both mother and child. 

Breastfeeding essentially acts as the baby’s first vaccine. It is the best possible start in life to protect the child from diseases and any form of malnutrition. It is in the best interest of healthy society to encourage breastfeeding and implement family-friendly policies that give mothers the time, space, and support they need to breastfeed.



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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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