All across the world, the first week of August is celebrated as â€˜World breastfeeding week.
In 1991, World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF initiated the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life to provide critical nutrients and prevent deadly diseases such as pneumonia, as well as foster growth and development.
The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous for both mother and child. It provides a number of health benefits for both, along with the first means of bonding between mother and child. For infants, breast milk is a ‘complete food’ with the right balance of nutrients and water that is required for the growth and development of the baby. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help to protect the baby from infections. Research says that babies who are breastfed have better cognition and IQ scores later in life. They are also less likely to develop conditions such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. Besides providing a sense of calm and satisfaction, breastfeeding also provides a number of health benefits for the mother. It helps to shed the extra weight accumulated during pregnancy and also helps the uterus to shrink. It helps reduce blood pressure and reduces the risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers like ovarian and breast cancer. It also reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Breastfeeding is the easiest, convenient and safe way to provide the baby with all the nourishment it needs for its proper growth and development. Even though it is advised that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, mothers face a lot of problems while breastfeeding. Not having proper support and guidance or not having proper facilities to breastfeed are some of them. To address these concerns, the theme of this yearâ€™s World Breastfeeding Week is “Step Up for Breastfeeding : Educate and Support”. It is very important to provide the right guidance and support for breastfeeding to ensure the good health of the next generation. Fortunately, the youngsters of today are sensitive to the issue. â€œA mother who is breastfeeding her child should be respected and society should come forward to make her comfortable rather than feeling awkward while breastfeedingâ€, says Vaishnavi Upasak, B.Sc. Home Science Final Year student of Dharampeth M.P. Deo Memorial Science College. Another student of the same class, Sushmita Mallick says â€œproper scientific guidance should be provided to the breastfeeding mother for issues like latching problems, engorged breasts, and sore nipples. Emotional support to the mother is also very importantâ€. â€œPractical demonstration of breastfeeding practices like holding the baby etc. are very important to build the confidence of a new mother,â€ says Renuka Raut.