Breastfeeding is one of the most fundamental and organic ways to nurture a child, giving them the best nutrients and necessary antibodies to keep them healthy.
Despite all of its advantages, breastfeeding rates are still below average in several nations throughout the world. It is crucial to raise awareness of the urgent need to remove obstacles and promote breastfeeding as a national public health priority as we observe World Breastfeeding Week.
Breastfeeding is no exception to the myriad difficulties that commonly accompany parenting. Breastfeeding’s low prevalence has been hampered by social conventions, cultural values, and false information.
Mothers are further discouraged from adopting this crucial activity by the absence of supportive environments, poor employment policies, and shame associated with public breastfeeding.
The baby food industry’s extensive marketing and promotion of infant formula is a key impediment to nursing. By portraying formula as a preferable substitute, deceptive advertising strategies frequently discourage breastfeeding. This gives moms the mistaken impression that formula feeding is more practical, nutritionally equivalent, or even superior to breastfeeding.
In many cases, mothers face pressure from family, friends, and even healthcare providers to switch to formula feeding, especially if they encounter difficulties in the early stages of breastfeeding. These challenges combined can significantly impact a mother’s confidence and motivation to breastfeed, leading to an overall decline in breastfeeding rates.
Breast milk is the only nourishment that nature intended for infants since it has a special combination of nutrients that cannot be found in any infant formula.
It has vital anti-infective antibodies that help shield infants from illnesses and infections, greatly lowering newborn morbidity and mortality rates. Additionally, breastfeeding is linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and certain allergies, which is advantageous for the long-term health of both mother and child.
To make breastfeeding a top priority for national public health, governments, healthcare institutions, and communities must work together. By appreciating the value of breastfeeding, we can launch a holistic strategy to remove obstacles and give moms all the support they need.
- Education and Awareness: To eliminate myths and prejudices about breastfeeding, a strong public awareness effort is necessary. Accurate information can promote a more positive attitude toward breastfeeding by being shared through public forums, social media sites, and neighbourhood gatherings.
- Supportive Healthcare System: Healthcare professionals are essential in assisting breastfeeding mothers. Medical professionals who have received the appropriate training and instruction can help moms throughout the nursing process. Adding lactation counselling services to healthcare facilities can also be extremely helpful for resolving breastfeeding difficulties.
- Workplace Policies: Working mothers can benefit from a supportive environment that is created by implementing breastfeeding-friendly workplace rules. Mothers may be able to continue breastfeeding even after returning to work because of paid maternity leave, flexible work schedules, and designated lactation rooms.
- Community Support: To normalize breastfeeding, a strong community support network must be established. Peer counsellors, community gatherings, and moms’ support groups can all offer encouragement, help people feel less alone, and give advice.
- Regulation of Baby Food Marketing: Ads that are deceptive and discourage breastfeeding can be stopped by strict regulations on the marketing of baby food. Governments must prioritize and enforce measures to protect the breastfeeding rights of mothers and babies.
Breastfeeding is an unparalleled act of love and care that lays the foundation for a healthier society. By breaking barriers and promoting breastfeeding as a national public health priority, we can empower mothers to make informed choices for their children’s health and well-being.
To create an environment that supports breastfeeding as the ideal method of child nourishment, governments, healthcare institutions, communities, and individuals must work together. Only then can we ensure a brighter, healthier future for generations to come.
Ms Lucy Chege is a registered and licensed nutritionist based in Kenya, proficient in medical nutrition therapy. Twitter: @LucyChegeM