The health of an infant is the responsibility of the parents. The first thing a child needs post-birth is to be breastfed by the mother. It is disturbing to find that infants succumb to death due to the careless approach of the parents towards the necessity of breastfeeding.

The health of an infant requires vital importance. The most basic and urgent necessity of a new born is the milk from the mother. The milk produced by the mother after the delivery of the baby is called ‘colostrum’. This milk is needed for the survival of the infant as it is rich in nutrition and helps increase the immunity of the child therefore reducing the chances of death at the neonatal stage.

The first two years of an infant’s life requires nourishment through the supplementary foods and mothers milk. These are vital years where the child develops physically and mentally. It is highly essential that during these growth yeas the proper nutrition is provided to the child and breastfeeding helps the child to fight allergies and other diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia by increasing their immunity. Malnourishment is the most commonly found problem in the children in India which can be prevented through breastfeeding. The malnourished child has low immunity levels and is critically underweight which also stunts the growth of the child through the years.

It is observed that India has poor rates of breastfeeding. According to National Family Heath survey (NFHS-3) the states such as Bihar have a low rate of approximately 4% breastfed infants after the first hour of birth. While Mizoram offers the highest percentage of breastfed infants at 66%. The average rates of breastfeeding in India is 24% which is unacceptable.  Children in India can be potentially as strong and healthy as children anywhere across the globe, but the lack of awareness about the vitality of breastfeeding leaves them without a head-start they deserve in life.

Low breastfeeding can be life threatening for both the child and the mother.  As it is the main source of nourishment for an infant, mothers milk proves essential for the chid. But it’s just not the child who benefits from it, even mothers benefit from breastfeeding as it works as a shielding against breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes and post-menopausal osteoporosis. It also helps in losing post-pregnancy weight and lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s at a later age.

The breastfed milk has been replaced by parents through the market bought packaged milk. The busy schedules these days has pushed women to opt for easier ways to feed their child. They hire caretakers for their infants or creche facilities to while they are at work, however the mothers forget the importance of breastfeeding. There are various alternatives that women may use to provide the child with their milk. The usage of breast pumps can help women to extract and store their milk which the child can intake. As breastfeeding rooms aren’t available, women may use nursing bra as it makes it easy to breastfeed in public.

But most importantly mothers must understand the importance of breastfeeding and the fact that no supplements or cereals can replace it as the power vested in the breastfed milk is superior to any other means of nutrition.

Healthy mothers are happy mothers! Under Smile Foundation’s Program Swabhiman, health mobilizers provide curative, ante-natal/post-natal services, & sensitize communities on family planning, nutrition & education.

Visit to know more about Swabhiman.


Jagriti Choudhry

Jagriti is a volunteer for Smile Foundation and final year student of English literature at Miranda House College. She also is a sports enthusiast and have a keen interest in reading and writing poetry.

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