A child’s nutrition is the building block of her future health. It is important to nourish children right from the moment they are born. This is why it is vital to breastfeed children. However, there is a lack of correct information around the benefits of breastfeeding. Thus, breastfeeding awareness campaigns play a key role in educating mothers and community members about the importance of breastfeeding.
The government as well as various non-profits and social development organisations have a number of community mobilisation activities to promote awareness about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding benefits for the baby
Many new mothers may be unsure about breasfeeding their baby. This is possibly due to a lack of awareness or an overdose of confusing information. However, as per medical professionals and researchers, the benefits of breastfeeding are many.
- Breast milk is easily digested by babies and it contains the right amount of nutrients. Moreover, as your baby grows, the breast milk’s composition and quantity also change to suit the baby.
- It is easily available, even when you are on the go. You do not even need to heat it as it is the correct temperature for your baby.
- It helps your child develop immunity against various viruses and bacteria. Thus, babies who breastfeed tend to fall sick less often. Latest studies suggest that lactating mothers who got the COVID-19 vaccine can pass on antibodies to their babies through breast milk.
- Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain in babies and also helps prevent childhood obesity. In addition to this, breastfed babies self-regulate their milk intake as they consume only as much as they require. This develops healthy eating patterns.
- Some studies also suggest that babies who are breastfed are smarter and have higher IQs.
- The bond between mother and child is strengthened during breastfeeding.
It helps mothers too!
Elders in the community and family often know about the pros of breastfeeding for the baby. However, very few people are aware about how important and useful it is for the mothers too. Below are a few ways in which it helps mothers.
- For many women, breastfeeding helps in losing the extra weight gained during pregnancy. It helps burn calories.
- During breastfeeding, the body releases hormone oxytocin. This helps the uterus to contract and go back to the pre-pregnancy size.
- Mothers who breastfeed are at lesser risk of post-partum depression, which is very common in new mothers.
- Women who breastfeed are at lower risk for many diseases—high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, and breast cancer.
Breastfeeding awareness campaigns are the need of the hour
The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding up to 6 to 24 months. In fact, some research even suggests that a baby should be breastfed as early as one hour after birth. Despite this being such a natural thing, there is a hush-hush attitude about breastfeeding. Due to this taboo, women are afraid to ask the necessary questions to educate themselves.
We at Smile Foundation understand the nutrition and health needs of both mother and child. Thus, under our Swabhiman programme, we organise various sessions for underprivileged and at-risk women. For instance, a breastfeeding awareness campaign was recently held in Bengaluru to inform and educate lactating mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding.
The “Innocenti Declaration” was made by the WHO and UNICEF to make lactating mothers aware of the importance of breastfeeding and to revive the good old practice. The declaration states that “all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding and all infants should be fed exclusively on breast milk up to 4 to 6 months of age as a global goal for optimal maternal and child health and nutrition”.
Breastfeeding and COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic surged, lactating mothers were concerned about infecting their child in case they got infected. Initially, pregnant and lactating women were not even sure if it was safe for them to take the vaccine.
Now, doctors have clarified that COVID-19 does not spread through breast milk. However, mothers must follow all the necessary precautions while feeding their little ones. For instance, they must wash hands before and after touching the baby, wear a mask, disinfect surfaces, and so on.
It has also been declared that pregnant and lactating women can take the COVID-19 vaccine without risking the health of their baby.