Breastfeeding is the birthright of every child and responsibility of every mother. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year – August 1 to 7.
This year’s theme is ‘Breastfeeding: The Foundation of Life’.
Wajir County health department joined the global event. Health executive committee member, Abdihakin Billow, together with other health officials led the county in marking the world breastfeeding week in Orahey Grounds, Wajir town.
“Establishing exclusive breastfeeding – feeding infants nothing but breast milk for the six months of life – helps young children grow, preventing under-nutrition, promoting brain development and reduce the rate at which children become overweight”, noted Mr. Billow.
The health department along with the first lady of the county, H.E Kheira Omar, acknowledged partners notably Save The Children and UNICEF in enhancing awareness creation, advocating for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding culture.
As far as breastfeeding is concerned, World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding within one hour for the first 6 months and at the same time providing them with nutritious complimentary till 2 years.
However, global statistics show that 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed within the first one hour thus putting more infant’s life at risk of deaths. UK records the lowest breastfeeding rate – 80 percent of mothers halt breastfeeding prematurely.
Before we proceed, what is the content of breast milk? The mammary gland milk has the following: water, protein, lactose, fatty acids, antibodies, hormone growth factors, vitamins and minerals, antibacterial and antiviral enzymes.
Health benefits of breastfeeding
Vision – babies who receive human milk have better vision compared to those given the alternatives.
Hearing capacity in terms of developing less ear infection is massively contributed to the mother’s milk. An ear infection occurs when one of the Eustachian tubes – small tubes that run from each other directly to the back of the throat – becomes swollen or blocked, causing fluid to build up in the middle ear.
Babies who are breastfed by their mothers are less likely to develop tonsillectomies – a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. Tonsils, two small glands located in the back of the throat, house white blood cells to help you fight infection, but sometimes the tonsils themselves become infected.
Less skin allergy is associated with babies who receive their mother’s milk, which in turn lead to general healthy living. Bumps, itching, redness and other skin conditions, common skin allergic, can be caused by many things, including plants (poison ivy, for example), allergic reactions to a medication or a food, or an illness (measles or chickenpox, for example).
For the muscle and joint, children who are breastfed by their mother regularly are linked with less cases of a condition called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – a type of arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness for more than six weeks in a child aged 16 or younger. The arthritis can at some point limit mobility of joints. With human milk, children are strong enough to deal with such condition.
Responding to vaccination is essential for child’s growth and development in terms of protecting the body organs from infection causing sickness. When given breast milk, infants are more likely to react to vaccines that enhance ailment protection.
Higher IQ is also associated with children who are breastfed and, this means cognitive development emanating from nerve tissue expansion. Improved memory is yet another merits of consuming milk of the mother.
Other deadly conditions and diseases greatly reduced by the breast milk include: urinary tract, obesity, sudden infant death syndrome, cholesterol management and respiratory infections.
The global breastfeeding week is an annual event that is set aside for recognizing the health importance of giving children their mother’s milk.
Stakeholders, moreover, noted barriers to breastfeeding such as poor health condition of the mother. Related challenges are little time for working mothers to breastfeed, high rate of dependence on infant formulae, deficient breast milk production, less awareness among young and new mothers and most significantly, the taboo associated with public breastfeeding.
In our normal societal settings, mothers who breastfeed their kids in public places are detested and, on occasion, chased from such locations. This shouldn’t be the case.
Amy Brown, Britain leading researchers, pertaining public attitudes said “more people think its okay to breastfeed in a toilet than a restaurant”.
Going by universal figures, the Asian country, India account for fifth of international neonatal deaths – these are children who die within 28 days after birth. With breastfeeding, 20 percent newborn deaths can be prevented.
Merits by mothers
Not only infants but also mothers are the beneficiaries of the breastfeeding commitment.
Health professionals and scientists put these benefits by mothers including but not limited to: breast cancer reduction – 28 percent, lessening of ovarian cancer – 21 percent, drop of type 11 diabetes – 12 percent, recuperating from childbirth, handling pregnancy weight among other benefits.
While some mothers breastfeed their tots routinely, others breastfeed responsively including after few hours and even at night.
The latter mothers have the advantage of continuously breastfeeding the child, increased milk production and weight improvement. In a bid to return to former sexy self, mothers who develop routine in breastfeeding, courtesy of social life, will likely develop breastfeeding difficulties.
Bottom line: health facilities, pediatricians, gynecologists, family members, parents, guidance and the general public must support new and young mothers to breastfeed their children.