Breastfeeding Week 2018
Breastfeeding: Foundation of life
Every year World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. This year's slogan is "In a world filled with inequality, crises and poverty, breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong good health. Actually, investments and commitments to improve infant feeding practices have a very critical impact on children's future lives. That is why Worldwide Breastfeeding Week, which works in promoting breastfeeding, is essential.
Breastfeeding has been recognized for decades as the best way to feed infants, with evidence consistently demonstrating its health, psychological, and financial benefits. Breast milk and the experience of breastfeeding protect babies against malnutrition and infections, represent a unique mother-baby bonding opportunity, promote psychological wellbeing for both mothers and babies, and contribute to children's cognitive development. Breastfeeding also protects the long-term health of the child by reducing his or her risk of obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, and protects women against ovarian and breast cancer.
But unfortunately, a common scenario prevalent at both rural and urban areas arisen from poverty of nutrition knowledge really makes me sad! We know people have education but unfortunately they don't have proper nutrition education! Such lack of nutrition knowledge provokes the families to make their baby's body as like a sack of "flour and sugar" just by feeding low quality formula foods at early life (surprisingly in this case all families seem very solvent!). Another factor especially over smartness of mothers (in this case this is simply foolishness) is also responsible for not feeding the baby.
The another reasons for partial or low breastfeeding are exaggerated advertisements regarding baby foods, poor implementation and less monitoring of breast milk substitute Act. According to section 4 of BMS Act 2013, no person shall print, exhibit, circulate or publish any advertisement of any breast-milk substitutes, infant foods, commercially manufactured complementary foods and any accessories thereof. Therefore, advertisements of these products telecast in different television channels and advertisements published in different newspapers in Bangladesh is a complete violation of the law.
These colorful advertisements are pushing mothers to feed artificial foods to babies ignoring natural foods. To save our children by any means such unhealthy and dishonest practices have to be modified. Here, government needs to give very tough look to halt this unhealthy race. In this regards, more messages, campaigns and awareness need to disseminate on proper "Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF)" both at rural and urban levels which will ultimately play as a positive catalyst to avoid different infant and commercially manufactured alternative foods.
Nutritionists/dietitians are striving to make positive mindset of people regarding food choices but along with them pediatric physicians also need to play role to change the mindset of people. Sometimes it is seen that physicians prescribe formula foods like Biomil, Lactogen etc, which seems as an antisocial activity to me (Obviously, there are individual cases when breastfeeding might not be possible; e.g. mother taking certain drugs like anticancer drug, infection with HIV, premature/extremely low birth weight baby (VLBW) which is less than 1000 g (2 pounds 3 ounces) and unable to suck;. and other considerations include mother with certain chronic illnesses may be advised not to breastfed, mother who has had breast surgery, and infants who have galactosemia; a rare metabolic disorder in which the body cannot digest sugar galactose should not be breastfed. But in such cases, mothers and others in charge of feeding the baby should learn how to prepare formula safely.
For ensuring the childhood development domains (social, physical, intellectual, communication and emotional development ; SPICE) Babies should be put to the breast within one hour after delivery, breastfed exclusively during their first six months of life, and continue to be breastfed, complemented with solid foods, until one or two years of age. According to "The national food policy plan of action and country investment plan 2017" of food ministry, barely 47 per cent of the newborns in our country are exclusively breastfed (without any additional food, drink or even water) by their mothers until the kids reach the age of six months. The drop in the exclusive breastfeeding practice exposed an increased number of mothers and newborns to various health risks. For a better future I think EBF needs to make mandatory and without prescription from dietitians no formula foods will be sold!
In our country, professional mothers have a latent plea in their mind regarding maternity leave period as because generally from the mid of 3rd trimester it's really become painful to bear the body and to go outside! So, expectant mothers usually have to take leave early. Due to this, they deprive their babies from breast milk for joining office hurriedly just after six months of maternity leave. We know, there is an order from honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that breastfeeding corner/baby caring corner has to set up in all institutions, shopping malls, banks, industries, etc. But sadly its visibility is not satisfactory! Along with this attempt, instead of six months maternity leave it should be "eight months". It will be very effective to ensure EBF properly. Due to unavoidable pre-natal condition, to professional mothers the mostly desired exclusive breastfeeding; EBF becomes partial breastfeeding; PBF which is undesirable.
Hope our prudent Prime Minister, "The Promoter" of enlightened Bangladesh (especially in case of promoting education, empowering women and curbing militancy and drugs) will consider this amendment for increasing the rate of EBF and for enjoying the long term positive outcomes of breastfeeding.
Additionally to change the EBF rate positively, all the concerned bodies should give look towards the factors that contribute to the low prevalence of breastfeeding such as negative attitudes towards breastfeeding in public and its association with "low class" in many cultures, insufficient promotion in health systems and opportunities to breastfeed in the workplace and, very importantly, the aggressive campaigns of the breast milk substitutes industry.