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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Breastfeed Babies: How Breastfeeding Saves Children’s Lives #Firsthour


Mothers everywhere should have access to information that allows them to make an informed choice about breastfeeding, and the support they need to breastfeed should they choose to. Prior to giving birth to our second son, my husband, Roland and I had a serious conversation about him being the gatekeeper for visitors at the hospital. I was inspired by how my sister, Malaika initiated breastfeeding right away after delivery, and wanted to do the same with our son. 

My husband’s job was to determine when people came to visit. This allowed me to feel comfortable nursing openly. Little did I know the countless ways of him assisting and supporting me with breastfeeding would be revealed throughout this journey. He provided us with an eternal sense of peace.  While I had a very positive experience breastfeeding our son after giving birth unfortunately this experience doesn’t happen for all women around the globe. Breastfeeding is critical to preventing malnutrition and saving children’s lives in the developing world.
 
When you first think about bringing a new life into the planet, you must remember that communication is important, not only with yourself, but your belief system and partner. Discuss the benefits of breastfeeding with your partner and weigh out the pros and cons. Breast milk is more than food. It’s spirit. The relationship itself is designed to create divine communication where the child is able to receive and prepares to receive. 

Breastfeeding immediately after birth could help save 830,000 newborn babies from dying a year, and exclusive breastfeeding for six months could save even more babies and children. Below are the four major barriers the Save the Children’s new report, Superfood for Babies: How overcoming barriers to breastfeeding will save children’s lives” found moms face in breastfeeding: 

 1. Cultural and community pressures:
  • Belief that babies should drink something else before starting breastfeeding – including water, herbal tea, sugared water, animal milk, ghee. These substances actually reduce the appetite and thirst of the baby that are essential to suckle effectively.  
2. Global health worker shortage:
  • The World Health Organization has estimated the global health worker shortage at more than 3 million. For this report, Save the Children analyzed data in 44 countries and found that women who had a skilled attendant present at birth were twice as likely initiate breastfeeding within the first hour.
3. Lack of maternity legislation:
  • Most of the 38 industrialized countries provide the recommended 2/3 pay during maternity leave, 5 countries provide between 30 (Japan) and 60 (Czech Republic) percent. In Australia and Denmark, maternity leave is funded by employers, but in the US there is no requirement at all that women be paid while on maternity leave, although some employers choose to. 
    4. Aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes:
  • The global baby food industry is estimated to be worth more than $36 billion and that figure is predicted to rise by 31% by 2015. Formula accounts for the majority of the industry – $25 billion.
Breastfeeding during the first 12 months of an infant’s life can provide tremendous health benefits for the child, even long-term. A recent report from the CDC shared that breastfeeding helps to prevent childhood obesity. As a stay-at-work mom, a former colleague and I spoke up and assisted our employer in establishing a permanent lactation room on site. We provided a safe and designated place for mothers to pump and feed their children. This allowed a smoother transition for working mothers, and enabled them to continue to provide milk for their children after returning back to work. I was pleased to have the ability to nurse our second son for nearly 15 months.  

Remember that if you want to breastfeed your child then wonderful! However, if you choose not to breastfeed then that’s OK too. It usually takes 2-3 weeks until the baby is comfortable. Milk may not come in right always, or breasts may be very sore. It’s difficult in the beginning. However, if your milk supply is good and you want to give it a try, then ask your partner to come along for the journey.

Supporters To Do List:
  • Provide water and food
  • Adjust the positioning of the pillow 
  • Adjust the lighting in the room
  • Burp the baby 
  • Change the baby if needed after feeding 
  • Swaddle the baby after feeding and changing 
  • Take a shift 
  • Massage 
  • Clean / cook 
  • Encourage with love
Save the Children is calling on Secretary of State Kerry to recommit to the 1,000 Days Partnership that expires in June.  Since 2010, this international partnership has already helped countries such as Indonesia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Tanzania develop strategies around fighting childhood malnutrition through supporting breastfeeding and other important steps.

Help mothers get the support they need to breastfeed their babies sign the petition here: www.savethechildren.org/1000-days

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in more than 120 countries, including the United States. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
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