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A mother is a nurturer of her kids, be it emotionally, financially, spiritually or physically. And every child has the right to be breastfed, to get a healthy start in life. Breastfeeding is as vital to children as air and water. It has a profound impact on a child’s health and wellbeing. Breastfed children have at least six times greater chances of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children. Breast milk provides all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients required for the growth of a child. The anti-infective properties of mother’s milk protect infants against diseases. Breastfeeding serves as the foundation of a healthy mind and body. The World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommends initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for 2yrs or more, together with safe and nutritionally adequate complementary solid food commencing from the 6th month of life.
Breast milk is a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness and reduces the mortality rate among children who are malnourished. Early initiation of breastfeeding within a 1st hour of birth, protects the newborn from acquiring infections and reduces newborn mortality .The risk of mortality due to diarrhea and other infections can increase in infants who are either partially breastfed or not breastfed at all. Children and adolescents who were breastfed as babies are less likely to become obese. The intelligence level is also higher of breastfed children than who are not. Children are a nation’s future. It is in their hands lay the nation’s growth and progress. So for a Nation to rise and shine in terms of economic gain and prosperity, we need to take utmost care of our future leader’s health and good will.
It won’t be incorrect to describe breast milk as magical, considering the innumerable benefits it has to offer. The benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond basic nutrition. Alongside offering a healthy start in life, breastfeeding also helps develop a strong and beautiful bond between mother and child. It is an experience and an attachment inexpressible through words. Gazing at your baby while snuggling him/her close to your heart and making close eye contact gives them a feeling of warmth and security. This emotional bond is as vital as the nutritional benefits. Closeness and intimacy while breastfeeding strengthens maternal affection. Breastfeeding releases two main hormones Oxytocin and Prolactin which help relax the mother and make her feel more nurturing towards her baby. Both the hormones work together to keep up with the supply and demand of a nursing infant.
Breastfeeding immediately after the birth, increases the mother’s Oxytocin levels, making her uterus contract and return to its normal size more quickly and reducing blood loss. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces total potential fertility as good as any modern contraceptive methods combined. By spacing birth, breastfeeding allows the mother to recuperate before she conceives again. It also lowers the risk of Breast and Ovarian cancer and Osteoporosis too. With such numerous benefits at its disposal, Employers and Governments should come up with supportive national policies to emphasize the importance and practice of breastfeeding.
The day I got my pregnancy test confirmed, I had one point very clear in my mind, that I am going to breastfeed my child. After a long wait of 9 months, finally arrived the day when my angel was born. Holding her for the first time was a feeling unspeakable. Since I had a C-section delivery, immediate breastfeeding was not possible. Then came the much awaited moment when my baby was handed over to me, to embark on the absolute magical journey of breastfeeding .With the help of nurses and under the supervision of Doctors and most importantly by the mother being by my side 24*7,this crucial yet toilsome task was so well handled. After initial struggle of making the baby latch on to the breasts and initiate sucking milk, the battle was finally won. With this major surgery, getting up every time the baby demands feeding was grueling, but nothing deterred me as it was extremely satisfying for my mind and soul. And by the grace of God I continued to breastfeed my child for 1 ½ yrs. The feeding time became mommy-baby bonding time. The attachment we share today is beyond words.
During the initial months when my baby was exclusively on breastfeeding, I was advised by my health care provider and the elderly females of home to include certain food items to increase the breast milk flow. Galactagogues or milk stimulating foods promotes milk flow. Ingredients such as Fennel seeds, Flax seeds, Carom seeds, Fenugreek and Cumin seeds, Spinach, Oats, Carrot, Raw Papaya, Almonds, Poppy seeds, Cow Milk, Apricots, Garlic are certain foods to be incorporated in the diet while breastfeeding to enhance lactation. But more than the food it is the love hormone which helps to increase the milk flow. The attachment which develops between mother and child makes the child feel loved and secured. A mother also needs to have all the health and strength to continue unrestricted feeding to her child as well as help her body recover. Unless diagnosed with some medical complications, with proper guidance, knowledge, and support every mother can breastfeed her child. Breastfeeding is a responsibility and is the best choice for every baby. ”Every possible step should be taken to emphasize the implementation of breastfeeding”.
A famous quote by Pamela K. Wigging says- “Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby and the earth”.