By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Dehradun, 5 Aug: An orientation programme was organised at Sai College of Nursing here recently to create awareness regarding breast-feeding under the auspices of Society for Health, Education and Women Empowerment Awareness (SHEWA).
Breastfeeding, a completely natural process, has been the subject of countless ongoing discussions and debates for decades. The first hour of a baby’s life is often the most magical; but it is also the most fragile. It is when the baby is at greatest risk of developing complications and breathing difficulties. And, it’s also when they’re in danger of not getting what they need the most: the first breast milk. In India, only 45% mothers initiate early breastfeeding. The delay in breastfeeding initiation reduces the baby’s access to the mother’s nutritious and immune system-boosting first milk known as colostrum and significantly increases the neonate’s death risk. “Every child deserves a healthy start. There is no better way than a mother’s milk,” added Dr Sujata Sanjay.
She said that babies up to six months of age should be fed only on breast milk, with no additional top-up feeds. She demonstrated correct ways for feeding a baby. She recommended continuing breastfeeding as long as the baby desires. She said during the first few weeks, babies might take feed every two to three hours. The duration of a feed is usually ten to fifteen minutes on each breast. “Breastfeeding decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea. Other benefits include lower risks of asthma, food allergies, celiac disease, type1 diabetes, and leukemia. Breastfeeding may also improve the cognitive development and decrease the risk of obesity in adulthood.”
She added, “I see a lot of women having apprehensions about whether or not they will be able to produce milk. Nature has programmed our female bodies in a way that the process of breast milk production automatically starts in the body after the baby is born.”
Breast milk, which was “natural, nutritional, naturally sterile and cheap”, would not only protect the infant’s health, but also the health of the mother, she said.
Dr Pratik, Secretary, SHEWA, stressed on the need to create awareness about the issue among young mothers, especially in rural areas and the poorer sections of society. The awareness campaign should be taken up during the prenatal stage, he suggested “Fathers can create a positive environment for breastfeeding in motivating and supporting the mother. Grandmothers play an equally important role and are an important source of support for new mothers. Their parenting experience can influence the mother’s decision to not only initiate, but continue breastfeeding. Her assistance in taking care of the baby and domestic responsibilities can make a big difference to the mother, especially in the early months” he added.