After the time a baby spends in his/her mother's womb, he/she enters the world with the only source of familiarity being the mother. Breastfeeding, in a way, becomes not only a source of familiarity but also a rich means of sustenance that can help the infant develop further.
According to a study by Medela, human milk is critical to the developmental and health outcomes of the preterm infant. When fed directly from the breast, human milk is in its safest and optimal form. Further, the study also states that breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health, and if it was scaled up to near-universal levels, about 820,000 children's lives would be saved every year.
Sharing such important pieces of information with the people around you will not only benefit them but greatly impact future generations.
Sharing the benefits of nursing the child
The concept of public breastfeeding is still something that makes few people quite uncomfortable. Though mothers have the complete right to breastfeed their child, they are expected to do it 'discreetly', especially in public. Understanding and sharing the benefits of
breastfeeding with others starts a conversation around you which would help erase the stigma around the topic.
There are multiple ways in which breastfeeding can prevent the occurrence of major diseases. A research by the National Cancer Institute stated that women who breastfed ended up having a lower risk of breast cancer than women who have had children but did not breastfeed. This
is since oestrogen levels may remain lower while a woman is breast-feeding. An important piece of information like this can help a new mother immensely when they are in a dilemma.
Making the family a breastfeeding champion
After undergoing the process of childbirth, the mother is generally under excruciating pain and needs time to recover. Meanwhile, she also needs time to bond with her newborn child. To ensure that the mother and the newborn have enough time to recover and connect, and
the mother does not get drained having to breastfeed throughout the day, the family needs to support the mother in every way possible.
There are many ways in which a family member can extend their support to new mothers. Offering encouraging words, giving them an opportunity to nap by taking care of the newborn between their meals. It is also important for the mother to have nutritious and wholesome meals, especially while breastfeeding. Cooking and helping them plan out these meals is a truly thoughtful way of taking care of the mothers. A way in which both the nursing mother and the new-born can be rewarded.
Often, the mothers are subjected to a lot of shame for breastfeeding in public or in front of any member. Hence, creating a comforting environment around them in the household and in public is crucial. We need to convey how the period of breastfeeding is a special moment, not only for the mother and the baby, but everyone around them.
(Author Dr Roghayyeh Bayazi is Certified Breastfeeding Specialist at PGPN Boston University)
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