10-Sep-2015.By: ELSIE Osho
Every year the World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated with great dreams, renewed hope and aspiration for the Nursing Mother and her New born all over the World on the 1st -7th of August; but how long is this dream often lived after the awareness is made? Breastfeeding is beginning to sound absurd in the ears of families as it gradually swims to join those practices kept locked in the book called “something of the past”. In recent times, processed baby-foods have become more appealing, promising mums that they provide all that breast milk offers and more. To aggravate this further, more Mothers are not sitting home patting the ancient routine at the back of “give birth to children and remain home as the housewife”, they have taken influential positions only men seem to occupy years back and it appears like no stopping them.
The benefits of infants breastfeeding cannot be over emphasized as many Nutrition authorities/ experts have a plethora of fact to buttress this stand. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.
Breastfeeding helps in decreasing the risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhea in children. This is true both in developing and developed countries. Other benefits include a lower risk of asthma, food allergies, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and leukaemia. Breastfeeding may also improve cognitive development and decrease the risk of obesity in adulthood.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother include less blood loss following delivery, better uterus shrinkage, weight loss, and less postpartum depression. It also increases the time before menstruation and fertility returns, known as lactation amenorrhea. Long term benefits may include a decreased risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Breastfeeding is less expensive for the family than infant formula.
WHO revealed recently that exclusive breastfeeding reduces infants deaths in developing countries by reducing diarrhoea and infectious diseases. It also reduced HIV transmission from mother to child, compared to mixed-feeding.
Common practices include denying the new-born colostrum and giving other foods or liquids before starting breastfeeding. Also, many women are not free to make their own decisions about whether they will breastfeed, and for how long. In Pakistan, a Save the Children survey revealed that only 44% of mothers considered themselves as not the prime decision-maker over how their children were fed; instead it is often husbands or mothers-in-law who decide.
Another is lack of maternity legislation returning to work after the birth of a child is difficult for any mother and may mean that continuing to breastfeed is very challenging. Women in informal employment are not exempted, they also face problems in continuing to breastfeed when they return to work, as they are often unable to take their children with them to the fields to farm or to do household chores such as collecting firewood and water.
Some other reasons are largely as a result of selfish desires from both spouse on physiological gains (like avoiding flabby breasts), females largely admit to certain non-medical excuses/barriers for not breastfeeding, which include work-related issues, personal preferences, having an unsupportive partner, feeling embarrassed, concerns about pain which are not healthy for the mother and her baby, and physical/medical problems.
Way forward for working and non-working mothers?
"Exclusively expressing is a healthy option for working mums". With good pumping habits, particularly in the first 12 weeks while establishing the milk supply, it is possible to express enough milk to feed the baby indefinitely.
To promote exclusive breastfeeding, women must be provided with sufficient paid maternity leave – Once a mother returns to work, there must be policies in place that require employers to provide paid breaks and private places where women can breastfeed or express milk so that they are able to continue breastfeeding.
Human and financial resources are also needed to scale up the support mothers get from health workers. Countries that support infant feeding practices have shown that it is possible to rapidly increase the rates of early initiation and exclusive practice of breastfeeding.
Mothers also need social and healthcare support. Peer counsellors Support to mothers from trained peer counsellors is effective in increasing uptake of breastfeeding.
Fathers on the other hand should help reduce the stress of their partner e.g. by helping around the house and making sure she gets enough rest, burping the baby after they have been fed, help support your partner care for the baby e.g. change its nappy or give it baths.
It doesn’t stop at helping in domestic work or as mentioned above, mothers need more support in getting the right diet to produce nutritious contents to feed their sucklings too. She is to put a stop any form of unhealthy lifestyles like; smoking, drinking alcohol, high cholesterol foods…
Family and friends can also be of great help at this point in time, support the mother and her partner by providing emotional and practical support e.g. buy food and help to clean the home, help to take care of the new baby’s siblings, listen and be supportive to the mother to help boost her confidence.
At the end of the day making the decision to breastfeed is a personal decision. It is also one that is likely to draw strong opinions from friends and family. Many medical authorities, including the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in all their knowledge and scientific conclusions strongly recommend breastfeeding. But in the end, you and your baby are unique, and so the decision is up to you.
Last Updated: 13-Jul-2017 10:09 AM
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