World Breastfeeding Week 2021 - Nurturing a Healthy India.
They say it takes a village to raise a child.
And yet, women are expected to naturally fit into the role of a mother and know how to nurture their baby from the get-go. For many new moms, early initiation of breastfeeding can be a huge challenge. A lack of community support, breastfeeding counselling and poor policies means that globally only 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2021 is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.”
Being responsible for a little human and their well being can be the most beautiful and overwhelming thing in the world. The joy of becoming a mother is often accompanied by guilt and doubt that sounds like:
“Am I doing it right?”
“Am I doing enough?”
“Am I a good mom?”
Motherhood is often painted in a positive light, leaving little room to talk about the challenges new moms face. As nuclear families become the norm, the social support that was once available to pregnant and lactating women has become a rarity — or even a luxury.
On the bright side, mothers today have access to a plethora of resources
such as breastfeeding counselling and psychosocial support to help them navigate the journey of motherhood. There is greater awareness on the importance of breastfeeding and its impact on babies’ health.
The World Health Organization recommends that breastfeeding be initiated within an hour of birth and continued for six months before introducing any nutritional supplements to the baby’s diet. Breastfeeding until the child is two years (or older) is proven to have several benefits.
- Breastfeeding produces oxytocin – a hormone that reduces stress and helps calm the mother and child.
It supports the development of healthy gut bacteria that strengthens the baby’s immune system.
- Breast Milk contains antibodies that protect babies from catching infections.
It provides important nutrients that aid the child’s growth and development.
- Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in mothers.
Babies need to be breastfed at least eight times a day.
However, 1.25 crore women in India are unable to produce sufficient quantities of breast milk for their infants. This can be attributed to several conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a low or high thyroid, diabetes, hypertension, or insufficient glandular tissue. A low supply can also be caused by external factors such as using the formula in the early weeks ofor being on hormonal birth control.
Inadequate lactation can take a toll on both — mother and child.
The good news is that there are several ways to maximize milk production such as pumping, taking a prescription medication or a potent Galactagogue like Wanto-Lact capsules that is made with natural ingredients such as Fenugreek and Cuminum (increases the quantity and quality of milk in lactating mothers within 24-72 hours). Consulting a doctor or a trained lactation consultant who can provide the right breastfeeding counselling can be a gamechanger.
A study by medical journal Lancet shows that 13% of all under-5 deaths could be prevented if India were to universalize breastfeeding.
And over 800,000 children could be saved worldwide if more women were able to breastfeed. That’s a pretty significant number. But the onus of breastfeeding cannot be on mothers alone. From maternity leave and benefits — to continued lactation support, a multifaceted approach is the need of the hour. This breastfeeding week, let us come together to increase awareness, remove barriers to breastfeeding and help save lives.
Afterall, protecting breastfeeding is a shared responsibility.