The first week of August is celebrated as the World Breastfeeding Week across 120 countries and India is one of them. This week is organised since last 25 years in order to spread awareness about the importance of Breastfeeding.
Studies have already proved the importance of Breastfeeding in the first 2 hours after baby’s birth. According to UNICEF, ‘delaying breastfeeding in first few hours after birth can lead to baby’s death.’
Studies show that despite spreading social awareness about the importance of Breastfeeding for both, the mother and the baby, only 41% of Indians practice breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
For the Mother
- Strengthens emotional bonding with the child
- Prevents uterine bleeding in the mother post delivery
- Breastfeeding is a natural form of Family Planning. It works as a sorcerer of contraceptive without having any side effects. However , it might not be 100% safe method.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in the mother.
- It saves your money from purchasing expensive formula milk.
For the Baby
- Breastfeeding is the ideal nutrition for the baby till 6 months of age. No other food should be given during this time, not even water (if the paediatrician has not mentioned it).
- Breastfed babies are at a Lower Risk of Developing ear and respiratory infections.
- Rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is lower in breastfed babies.
- Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop gastrointestinal infection and diarrhoea.
- Breastfed babies have higher IQ levels.
- They are less prone to developing allergies.
- Breastfed babies have lower risk of developing childhood obesity which in turn lessens the chance of diabetes and other related illnesses later in life.
- Formula milk provides NO protection against illness or infections.
How to Facilitate Breastfeeding in India
- Educate – It is very important to spread awareness about the benefits of Breastfeeding among young mothers. Conducting seminars and workshops in villages and cities is important to provide education against the myths associated with breastfeeding.
- Public Acceptance – It isn’t possible that the baby will feel hungry only at home. Nor is it possible for the mother to be at home for the first six months after baby’s birth. She has to get the opportunity to breastfeed her baby in public without being judged. So, next time you see a mother feeding her baby on her breasts, appreciate her. She is not exhibiting her assets, so do not ogle. Let the mother feed her baby peacefully.
- Baby Care Rooms – These are rooms where the mothers can feed their babies. As of now, there are very few places which have baby care rooms. They include few airports and few of the major malls in metropolitan cities. The numbers have to be increased significantly so that mothers can feed their babies whenever the child is hungry without feeling embarrassed.
- Maternity Leave – One of the major HR policies which needs to be revised in organisations is the Maternity Leave policy. Since the last 55 years, the paid Maternity leave is only 3 months. In case , the mother wants to extend it, she has to go for leaves without pay. The Maternity leave should increase at least up to six months, till the time, the baby requires exclusive breastfeeding.