RAIPUR: As we celebrate World Breast Feeding Week, Job Zachariah Chief of UNICEF Chhattisgarh reminds us of the importance and benefits of breastfeeding. Breast milk protects children against death, diseases and malnutrition. According to Lancet journal, breastfeeding of babies within one hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months can prevent 13% of death of children below 5 years. Breast-fed babies have 5-8 IQ points more than bottle-fed babies.
7 benefits to mothers
1. Breastfeeding mothers can shed the weight gained during pregnancy quickly and regain their body shape
2. It reduces bleeding after delivery and helps the uterus to contract quickly
3. Breastfeeding mothers have a low risk of cancers of the breast, ovary and uterus.
4. It reduces the risk of hypertension ( blood pressure), heart diseases and type-2 diabetes
5. Breastfeeding acts like a contraceptive and delays the next pregnancy
6. Helps bonding with the baby, as breastfeeding releases oxytocin, the hormone of love and affection
7. Breastfeeding reduces stress and anxiety of mothers due to the release of prolactin hormone
Breastfeeding practices in India
Despite multiple benefits, in India, only 42% of newborns are given mothers milk within one hour of birth and only 55% of infants are exclusively breastfed in the first six months, as per the national family health survey- 4.
Not a woman’s job alone
Breastfeeding is not a one-woman job. Mothers require the support of the family including husband ( encouragement), nurses ( counselling on lactation), workplace ( maternity leave, nursing break, creche facility), hospitals (promotion of breastfeeding) and government (legislation).
World breastfeeding week is observed from 1 to 7 August, every year.