BREAST FEEDING

WORLD’S BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2020

THEME 

Supporting breast feeding for a healthier planet. According to SDG (sustainable development goal 13)

Breastfeeding plays an important role in the fulfilment of various childhood development goals. Unlike formula milk production which generates greenhouse gas, which lead to global warming and produce pollution and toxic emissions upon disposal, breast milk is a” natural renewable food “that is environmentally friendly, produced and delivered to the consumer without pollution, packaging and is safe.

Breastfeeding therefore helps in the support of the following SDGS

  1. SDG6 helps ins conservation of clean water and maintaining proper sanitation breast milk is never processed thus no products that cause pollution
  2. SDG7 the use of affordable and clean energy. No electricity or any other artificial fuel is required
  3. SDG11 disaster risk management by making human settlements inclusive , safe , resilient and sustainable
  4. SDG12 prevention of too much chemical and waste by ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns
  5. SDG13 take action on climate change
  6. SDG14 caring for the seas and marine life
  7. SDG15 our terrestrial environment and its inhabitants

Exclusive breast feeding which is feeding a child on breast milk only without introduction of any other foods, including water, for the first six months of life; is recommended by the world health organisation (WHO) and UNICEF. It helps the child gain immunity, grow physically (good weight for age and also height for age) and minimises the probability of getting malnourished. It also promotes mental health.

Breastfeeding in the correct way will help prepare a baby for the lifecycle to old age

Exclusive breast feeding is initiated immediately when a child is born and the doctor declares that both the mother and the child are in stable condition. This ideally should be within an hour of birth. The child gets to take in the first milk which is the colostrum. It is recognised as the first immunisation of the child as it has antibodies which give the child immunity against infections. Many articles reveal that bacterial, viral and fungal and protozoa infection of the new born baby can be reduced by feeding on colostrum.

Most hospitals all over the world including Kenya have started embracing the Baby Friendly Hospital initiative (BFHI) which was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991. Very soon the government of Kenya is coming up with baby friendly community initiative (BFCI). This will ensure that before a mother and child are discharged from a health facility the mother is shown the proper way of attaching a baby to the breast while the baby should be able to latch as expected

Mixed feeding or giving other foods and water is very dangerous to a baby. It exposes the child to infections and leads to low supply of the breast milk because the child is not feeding frequently from the breast. WHO and UNICEF have discouraged the use of formula milk and other breast milk substitutes because despite being too hush on the digestive system they also contribute to environmental pollution in their production and distribution to their consumers.

The Kenyan law ACT NO. 34 of 2012 on the breast milk and substitutes was established to provide for safe and adequate nutrition for infants through the promotion of breastfeeding and proper use of breast milk substitutes, where necessary, and for connected purposes

Exclusive breast feeding is also recommended in infection such as HIV and even the current COVID-19 infections. Antiretroviral (ARVS) drugs given to either the mother or HIV exposed infants reduce the risk of transmission.  During this COVID -19 season;

  1. Mothers should clean their hands before feeding the baby and expressing breast milk.
  2. Mothers should ensure they use face masks when breastfeeding
  3. The surfaces of the home should be disinfected regularly
  4. Avoid visitors.

Breast feeding can continue up to two years; after the child has been introduced to the complementary foods which are safe and nutritious at six months.

Breastfeeding has very many benefits to the child, the mother and also to the community at large

 

BENEFITS TO THE CHILD

  1. It helps children survive , by improving their immunity and reduce the morbidity of several infections like the acute respiratory infection(Lancet 2008) and also its quick  digestibility prevents the baby from getting constipations and also diarrhoea
  2. It helps healthy brain development , improves cognitive performance and is associated with better educational achievement at age 5
  3. Contains all the nutrient that are required for development and growth

BENEFITS TO THE MOTHER

  1. Helps the body return to its pre pregnant state faster
  2. Lessen the chances of ovarian and breast cancer
  3. Lessen the chances of osteoporosis (weak bones ) when you are older
  4. It also saves time and cost because the milk is always ready and does not have to be prepared
  5. It helps build a very great bond between the mother and the child
  6. In case the mother had developed gestational diabetes (got during pregnancy) it reduces the chances of getting overt diabetes type 2.
  7. Reduces stress levels.

BENEFITS TO THE FAMILY AND SOCIETY

  1. Breast milk is always available and is fresh , clean and safe
  2. It saves you time as you do not need to mix formula and clean bottles
  3. It is always ready for the baby.                                                                                                                               By Nutritionist Mary Muthoni

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