Childbirth is an extremely emotional experience for all parents; it overwhelms them with love, happiness, excitement, a sense of responsibility as well as a lot of anxiety and exhaustion. The moment a child is first held in the arms, this amazing journey of parenthood begins. At the breast, the infant feels at home: warm, safe and protected. Breastfeeding nourishes, heals and creates an eternal bond.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
Just like all other mammals, the natural duration of breastfeeding in human beings is also somewhere between 2.5 to 7 years. This natural term weaning, helps mothers to continue to provide immunity and meet their baby's psychological needs as they grow and start exploring more.
The WABA and the World Bank emphasizes that breastfeeding has the single biggest impact on child mortality compared to any other preventative health measure. Breastfeeding can help avoid over 800,000 child deaths and 20,000 maternal deaths globally per year, from several causes including breast cancer and other forms of cancers, diabetes and other illnesses.
Imparting correct education about breastfeeding and creating
awareness is really crucial and should be ideally begin right from adolescent
age. Sensitization of pregnant women about the umpteen benefits of
breastfeeding and preparing them for the future challenges is very important.
breastfeeding classes is a must. Along with moms to be, the father
and the elderly in the families, should also be encouraged to attend these
In hospital settings too, each and everyone who caters to breastfeeding mom and baby dyads like the obstetricians, gynaecologists, neonatologists, pediatricians, lactation consultants, nursing staff, midwives and other paramedics should all be involved. They all should be well-versed with the updated knowledge and skills required for optimum breastfeeding
Human milk banks are the need of the hour and need to be setup in large numbers all across the country to ensure that all babies receive only precious breastmilk and formula feeding can be completely avoided even in the cases where breastfeeding is contraindicated or not possible for some reason.
Education and awareness needs to reach the grassroots and hence education programs need to be carried out at community level. The training for community health workers, doctors and nurses from special new-born care units (SCNUs) and district and sub district levels is also very important.
In order to bring about huge change for the betterment, the policymakers, academicians, advocates and the media also need to be involved. The employers should create breastfeeding friendly environment and policies for the lactating mothers. Media and celebrities need to be really vigilant and conscious that no wrong messages are getting spread to the masses which might hamper breastfeeding success.
With the boom of social media, it is a moral duty of all the social media influencers and each one of us to contribute towards promoting and protecting breastfeeding. There is a dire need of many more peer support groups, which are moderated by experts in the field so that every mother will be able to share her insecurities more freely and get support from moms who have overcome similar challenges. Breastfeeding is a shared responsibility and success can be achieved only when mothers receive a caring and supportive environment.