World Breastfeeding Week – A Winning Goal for Life!
The World Health Organization states that only about 40% of infants under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed. This is despite compelling evidence that ‘Breast is Best’. World Breastfeeding Week takes place 1-7 August, 2014 – let's take a look at why breastfeeding should be 'A Winning Goal for Life.'
Breastfeeding is recommended for all newborns and infants up to the age of 6 months and should begin within 1 hour of birth. Although there are plenty who advocate different regimes WHO recommends that ‘on demand’ feeding is best and that bottles and pacifiers should be avoided.
Breast milk is ideal food for newborn babies as it contains all the nutrients they need including antibodies that helps to protect them from diarrhoea and pneumonia. These two illnesses alone are the cause of around 2 million deaths among children under the age of 5 each year. Also, as breast milk is so readily available it ensures that infants don’t become malnourished.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers:
Although not exclusively fail-safe, breastfeeding does afford a degree of natural birth control – Reportedly, 98% protection in the first six months after birth when exclusively breastfeeding. There is also a reduced risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer later on in life to those women that breastfeed their children.
Many of those women who have breastfed their children will attest to returning to their pre-pregnancy weight much quicker than those who did not breast feed. Breast feeding also helps to reduce rates of obesity in new Mothers.
There are also continued long-term benefits to children who were breast fed as they become teenagers and adults. These children are less likely to be overweight or obese as adults and they are also less likely to have type-2 diabetes. Some scientists have argued that they also perform better in intelligence tests.
So, what’s wrong with formula milk?
Even the very best formula milk can’t compete with Mother Nature and the antibodies she provides in breast milk. If formula milk isn’t prepared properly, or sterilising routines are not adhered to, it can lead to infection and illness. Malnutrition can occur when Mothers try to ‘stretch’ out supplies of formula milk by watering it down. However, the act of constant breast feeding maintains a continuous supply of milk. But once you start feeding your baby formula milk it can be difficult to return to breast feeding if formula supplies become unavailable.
There are, of course, certain circumstances when a Mother can’t breastfeed and it is acknowledged that today’s formula milk can be a healthy substitute. However, there is an international code to regulate the marketing of formula milk that has been in place since 1981.
- Formula products must state all ingredients & state the benefits of natural breastfeeding
- Companies can’t send free samples of substitute products to pregnant women, mothers or their families
- No free or subsidised formula products can be sent to health workers or clinics/hospitals.
Why can something so natural be so difficult?
Breastfeeding is natural but that’s not to say that it can’t be without it’s complications. New Mothers need information and support if they are to successfully breastfeed their baby. Many health care workers, midwives and charitable organisations provide help and advice to Mothers about breastfeeding. There are many calls for breastfeeding to become more acceptable in society so that mothers can breastfeed without being consigned to the bathroom to feed their child.
Does your workplace acknowledge the needs of nursing Mothers? How do you feel about seeing a Mother breastfeeding her child in public? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below or join in our discussions on our social networks.