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Breastfeeding Education: Know Why It Is Essential For Every Mother

There is an improvement in the percentage of exclusively breastfed children (under six months), from 55% in NFHS-4 to 64% in NFHS-5. However, the rate of children younger than three years who were breastfed within an hour of birth remains unchanged.

BREASTFEEDING AWARENESS: The gold standard of exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life by WHO, UNICEF, and other national associations. This should be followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years and beyond. According to Dr Pragnajyoti Mukherjee, Head of Medical Affairs, CLIRNET, breastfeeding should start after the child’s birth and be done as and when the child demands, with the usual interval between two feeds being 2-3 hours. Mothers are advised to feed their babies 8-10 times daily and not skip night feeds.

Skilled Breastfeeding Counselling

Skilled breastfeeding counseling is the need of the hour to improve breastfeeding rates. Governments, institutions, public health bodies, and private organizations should work together to improve access to skilled breastfeeding counseling. This will help in enhancing the duration of breastfeeding as well as promoting exclusive breastfeeding. In numerous ways, counseling can help pregnant women and mothers who intend to breastfeed or are currently breastfeeding. In-depth discussions on breastfeeding, frequency, timing, and mode can help parents become more familiar with the benefits.

WHO Breastfeeding Recommendations

WHO also recommends early and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact, rooming-in and kangaroo mother care which can significantly improve neonatal survival and reduce morbidity and mortality rates. There has been a decrease in the mortality rate of children under 5, from 49.7 to 41.9 deaths per 1,000 live births as per the NFHS 5 data. However, more awareness is required to decrease the rates further.

How Does Breastfeeding Benefit The Baby?

Breastfeeding benefits the baby in numerous ways like preventing infections, allergies, and asthma, protecting them against obesity, dehydration and other non-communicable diseases like diabetes later in life. It also provides them with essential nutrients required for rapid linear growth, cognitive development and weight accretion in the first 1000 days or two years of life. In addition, breast milk has maternal antibodies, which can help babies develop a robust immune system.

How Breastfeeding Helps Mothers

Breastfeeding helps mothers by decreasing the chances of ovarian and breast cancers, high blood pressure, shrinking the uterus and stopping bleeding. It also allows mothers to bond better with their children and helps them return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster. In addition, it releases oxytocin which helps in better mood and emotions.

All About Breastfeeding Education

  • Breastfeeding education is essential to ease mothers into the process and should start long before the baby arrives. It can help educate them on the breastfeeding positions, techniques, dos and don’ts, feeding signals, assessing the adequacy, etc.
  • Failed breastfeeding can be due to a lack of access to lactation support, a need to return to work early, predatory marketing, unsupportive partners, family, stress, community or many other factors.
  • Prenatal breastfeeding education is required for new parents to be confident in differentiating between factual information and myths. Understanding what to expect during the early days and what is right is also essential.
  • In addition, lactation support programs can support communities by decreasing healthcare costs and time lost from work due to illness, preventing absenteeism and increasing productivity.

Conclusion

The promotion of breastfeeding should be a priority as it is an investment in health that needs to be addressed by international bodies and healthcare personnel, communities, families, and paramedics. Then only breastfeeding numbers will go up, which will help the development and growth of society as a whole.

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