New Delhi [India], July 31 (ANI): World Breastfeeding Week is annually celebrated from August 1 to 7 to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. Initially, around 70 countries used to commemorate the week, however now, it is celebrated by 170 countries.
The occasion commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.
As per WHO, breastfed children are more intellectual and fit. Furthermore, their chances of being overweight, obese, and prone to diabetes are comparatively lesser than the ones who aren’t. Breast milk is the best food for newborn babies as it contains antibodies that aid in preventing several prevalent pediatric ailments.
This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is ‘Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support.’
On the occasion, in order to shed light on the importance of breastfeeding for mothers, Dr Neharika Malhotra, Consultant- Gynecology, Ujala Cygnus Rainbow Hospital, Agra shared, “Breastfeeding is one of the best ways for a mother to recover from postpartum depression. Some studies have found that breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in mothers. Not only that, regular practices of breastfeeding decrease the risk of mothers’ developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.”
According to the WHO estimate, increased breastfeeding could avert 20, 000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer. Dr Neharika added, “Therefore, we need to promote the importance of more family-friendly policies to protect and support breastfeeding. More would-be mothers should be subjected to counseling so that the practice of breastfeeding should be inculcated right from the beginning.”
Breastfeeding is extremely crucial for the healthy growth and development of an infant. Also, it is an overwhelming experience for a mother. As per the WHO reports, 2 out of 3 children are not breastfed. Therefore, it makes it all the more crucial to mark this day. Mothers are recommended to breastfeed their children for 6 months post birth.
Speaking on the subject, Dr Manpreet Sodhi, Consultant- Obs and Gynaecology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, said, “World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Mothers need practical support to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth (within the first hour) and the social stigma associated with breastfeeding in India hinders the education and support of mothers in this process. We have witnessed a tremendous fall in attention to the topic during the pandemic as health workers were diverted to respond to the overburdened cases of Covid. Counselling, skilled lactation and other steps toward awareness of breastfeeding are rarely a cause of concern in the country and have no place in rural areas.”
He suggested that according to research, in India, lack of breastfeeding results in serious health issues in children like malnutrition, and over and under-weight micronutrient deficiencies. The World Health Assembly has set a global target to increase the exclusive breastfeeding rate by 50 per cent by 2025. Currently, 55 per cent of children under six months are exclusively breastfed in the country.”
As World Breastfeeding Week is being commemorated, it is vital to spread awareness about the importance of education and support for breastfeeding. It’s not a social stigma but a requirement that shapes a child’s physical and mental wellbeing. (ANI)