Bengaluru: Breastfeeding is one of the most essential and natural forms of bonding between a mother and a child and also a vital source of nutrition and immunity for the latter, but health experts lament it is not given its due importance due to lack of awareness and various misconceptions.
According to the National Health Profile Survey (NHFS-4), in Karnataka only 54% of the infants receive exclusive breast feeding. The survey also revealed that not even 50% of the children under three years of age in the city are breastfed within an hour of their birth.
During the World Breast Feeding week which is marked in the first week of August and is themed as ‘Breastfeeding support: Close to mothers’, experts highlight that infants who are not exclusively breastfed for the first six months are at a greater risk of death from diarrhoea or pneumonia than those who are breastfed.
“The present day new mothers have to be educated regarding the benefits of exclusive breast feeding for six months. This ensures that there is good bond between mother and baby, and the baby gets the ideal mixed bag of essential nutrients,” said Dr Gayathri D. Kamath, Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Fortis Hospitals. Many women also fear that breastfeeding wilts their breasts, while research has proved otherwise, thereby busting the myth that breastfeeding leads to drooping of breasts. A recent study also shows that breastfeeding did not have a significant effect on breast ptosis (medical term for sagging breasts), whereas age, smoking and the number of pregnancies a woman had affected the shape of their breasts.
Dr Nagarathna D.S., Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Apollo Cradle, Koramangala, said, “Breast milk provides the perfect source of nutrition for new born babies. All women must be encouraged to breast feed the baby immediately after their delivery, be it normal or caesarean, at the earliest or within one hour. Breast milk should be given to the baby once both the mother and the child are in a stable condition.”
According to a research by WHO and UNICEF, breastfeeding babies for the first two years would annually save the lives of more than 8,20,000 children under five years of age. Dr Nirmala Chandrashekhar, Consultant Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Gynaec Oncology at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals said, “Early initiation, that is, breastfeeding from the first hour of birth ensures that infants consume the colostrum, which is the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth. Colostrum is said to be high in antibodies and reduces the risk of death from hypothermia, helps in epithelial recovery and protects children from infectious diseases.”...