Breastfeeding is the best source of nourishment, nutrition and sustenance for the child. It also has various benefits for the mother as well. Even though it has numerous benefits for both the mother and child, the number of mothers that start nursing their child often don’t reach the 6-month mark of exclusive breastfeeding. In fact, around 65% of the mothers give up on exclusive breastfeeding before reaching 6 months. That’s a huge chunk of mothers giving up on it and we as a community, have to figure out the reasons for this and also promote and raise awareness about the wide range of benefits that breastfeeding provides the mother, baby and to the community as a whole.
Many mothers who want to nurse their baby are often flooded with so much misinformation that they give up on the idea before even giving it a try. Others who do take the initiative are not supported and backed enough by their partners, job or family members and they relinquish before time. Sometimes the mothers face issues like Perceived insufficient milk supply that makes them think that their milk supply isn’t enough to nourish the baby thus giving up. Although most of the time the milk supply is enough and it is just their fears, even if the supply is low, it can be boosted with lactation brownies but the awareness of all this is limited.
The American Academy of Paediatrics and World Health Organization both strongly recommend breastfeeding for at least the 6 months of the child and can last up to 2 years. But oftentimes these recommendations are taken just as seriously as we take the idea of eating healthy but order takeaway 4 times a week. Lactivists and other health promoters must work hard to raise awareness, change the perception of the people, and pave ways for making nursing easy for the mothers. Here are some ways by which you can promote breastfeeding and raise much-needed mindfulness about it.
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Educate and back up with Strong Support
The most important and result-producing tactic would be to educate the mothers who actually have to nurse the child. If a mother is sure, positive and determined about it she’ll work out ways herself. But if she is not well-versed, well-educated and well-informed about the various benefits of breastfeeding, she’ll give up sooner or later. Now educating doesn’t mean printed flyers and leaflets that have a list of benefits and advantages of nursing the child. It’s a much more layered and convoluted process.
The idea of nursing should be broached at a very early stage of pregnancy or even before that. All the benefits and complications must be put openly in front of the mother and let her know the ways she can work through them. For example, if she fears that her milk supply will be insufficient, tell her about lactation brownies, that will increase milk supply. Mothers are not alone in this so a strong support system should also be encouraged.
Aim for Wider Acceptance and Awareness
Educating the mother is the first step but it surely isn’t the only one, we have to spread awareness and educate the wider population so that they accept it as an important thing. Sometimes a mother is determined and positive to nurse her child but the people around her aren’t supportive enough, doesn’t know the importance of it thus doesn’t back her up or help her through this challenging period. General public needs to be more aware of its benefits and its importance so that they can, as a whole, support nursing mothers and make exceptions for them in what little or big way they can. This can be done by displaying signs about breastfeeding, showing support for mothers who nurse, including that in books and makes it as common as traffic signals.
Maternity Leaves and Rights
Countries that support longer and paid maternity leaves have higher breastfeeding rates than countries that deduct the pay or don’t pay at all to mothers who take maternity leaves. For example, Sweden has much higher breastfeeding rates than the UK or USA which asks the mothers to join after a few weeks of delivery. Mother has to abandon the child and join their work again and feel less motivated to nurse her child as the timings and job demands drain so much energy and stamina from her that she feels formula feeding is way easier than nursing or pumping. Employers must accommodate nursing mothers for pumping and feeding, allow flexibility in job timing or even allow them to work from home without deducting their pay so that she feels motivated to nurse as well as build her career.
Stop Promoting and Advertising Formula Milk
Formula milk is essential for all those babies who somehow can’t nurse or their mothers are unable to nurse due to any medical reason. But to advertise them as breastfeeding alternatives misleads the parents and makes them consider it. Formula milk powders can’t even be close to mother’s milk. Breast milk is as alive as the mother and the baby, it knows at what stage the child needs nutrients, vitamins, immunity boosters and minerals. It changes its flow with the demand and adapts to the baby’s needs without much effort from the mother. You can increase milk supply by lactation brownies and cookies from Majka, treats and drinks and also control it by pumping. We should refrain from misleading and over promising advertisements and should clearly mention that the mother’s milk is the best source of milk.
Promote the Health Benefits
It is also pivotal to promote the numerous health benefits that can be gained by the mother and the baby when they nurse. Although the list is too long, the crux of the matter is that the advantages are not just momentary, they are deep rooted and lasts for the entire life of the baby. It’s like the best gift to the baby which she/he will benefit from, their entire lives.
Breastfeeding is just as important as any other social awareness message like no smoking. Healthy agencies can’t emphasize enough on nursing the babies but the change will come when the awareness is spread to the wider audience. So all those mothers, fathers, employers, family members, friends, in-laws and NGOs out there support and promote breastfeeding.