Starting with Breastfeeding
Breast Milk is an ultimate form of nourishment and by nursing a child a woman attains motherhood in her truest sense. But is breastfeeding the only responsibility of a mother? While the World celebrates Breastfeeding Week between 1st to 7th August 2021, the theme of 2021 is to Protect Breastfeeding and recognize it as a shared responsibility. Did you know, a total of 8,20,000 children could be saved every year if they are breastfed between 0-23 months. Unfortunately, 3 out of 5 babies are not breastfed even in the first hour of pregnancy.
Taking this forward we want to address a few important measures that could help us understand the significance of Breastfeeding. Believe it or not, a mother starts producing milk even before her baby is born (12 to 18 weeks left for delivery) and the first milk that her body makes is called the colostrum which is high in carbohydrates, protein, and
antibodies. Breastfeeding the child immediately in the first hour after delivery helps the baby pass meconium and fight jaundice and other infections. This should be made a practice in all the maternity centers, encouraging women to breastfeed especially when the infant is kept under intensive special care. Skin-to-skin contact between mother and her child in the form of responsive breastfeeding can help nurture its growth during sensitive hours.
Further practicing BreastFeeding regularly.
Special care should be taken to establish systematic methods, positions, timings of breastfeeding and any form of food or fluids other than breast milk should be avoided unless it is medically advised by the doctor. In case of difficulty to naturally stimulate the breast milk, non-nutritive sucking and oral stimulation may help until the natural method is built.
Using both the sides of the breast and making sure that the baby is breastfed 8 to 12 times a day ensures regular milk production in the mother as well. Further one can start pumping and storing the extra breastmilk in the refrigerator or freezer for later use in the day to avoid wastage and ensure timely provision of breastmilk to the baby in the absence of the mother. closeness enables them to build caring, nurturing relationships with their infants and increase their confidence in themselves.
Designing an enabling environment
All the above measures taken by individual mothers can prove to be effective with a collective effort taken on a broader level. Not only the mother giving birth to a child but each and every person associated with its birth should be supportive and well informed about the entire breastfeeding practice. May it be the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, caretakers, or even the family of this child and its mother, combined efforts to understand, consult and practice breastfeeding can save the lives of millions of infants.
Here’s how we can share the responsibility to protect breastfeeding.
The maternity homes and hospitals delivering a child should have a set of well-established policies and a team to advocate breastfeeding. All the aspects of the policy should be very well communicated and diagnosed with execution. Along with the communication, ensuring a systematic implementation is important. All the Health-facility staff who take care of the infant should be abreast with each and every measure. This makes them competent and responsive to all the situations arising during breastfeeding.
Once the mother-child is about to get discharged, their families should be counseled about the benefits and management of breastfeeding with access to ongoing support and appropriate care. Proper guidance and counseling of mothers and other family members enable them to make informed decisions on the use or avoidance of pacifiers and/or feeding bottles and teats until the successful establishment of breastfeeding.
Additional foods and fluids apart from breast milk should only be given to supplement the growth of a child along with breastfeeding. However excessive use of feeding bottles, and teats, pacifiers, or dummies completely as a substitute for breastfeeding should be discouraged. However, Health facilities and their staff may allow feeding bottles and teats or other products within the scope of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and its subsequent related WHA resolutions , to breastfeeding infants.
Coordination of clinical systems in facilities providing maternity and newborn services, so that standards of care for breastfeeding support are coordinated across the obstetric, midwifery, and pediatric services, helps develop services that improve the outcomes for those using them.
Breastfeeding during Covid-19
It is recommended by WHO that the elements of breastmilk helps one fight respiratory tract infections. Even during a Covid-19, breastfeeding remains an ideal form of nutrition for infants, strengthening their immune system, reducing the neonatal morbidity.Breastfeeding boosts anti-inflammatory responses along with antimicrobial properties and promotes healthy immune responses.
However the risk of transmitting virus from the mother to the infant through placenta
cannot be avoided. Hence to support the mothers who fail to maintain proximity with their infants may seek help from other donors of breast milk or reach out to the nearest Human Milk Bank. A Human milk bank or breast milk bank is a service which collects, screens, processes, and dispenses by prescription human milk donated by nursing mothers who are not biologically related to the recipient infant.India nearly has 80 Human Milk Banks.
Many organisations around the globe deal with sprinkles, small sachets of micro-nutrients for pregnant and lactating mothers and Hexagon Nutrition is proud to be one of them.Each 8g sachet is enough for 20 servings that contains the required Iron, Zinc, Folic Acid and Vitamins that can help them fight anemia and other complications. Hexagon Nutrition has been one of the greatest health advocates to balance nutrition at every stage of life and for the mothers we pledge to protect breastfeeding and promote it as a shared responsibility.
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