Breastfeeding: A Source of Life or Embarrassment?

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Breastfeeding is not only the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need, it leads to sustainable growth in the society. Nature has made it in such a way that once a woman is pregnant, the survival of the child after the birth is taken good care of through the breastmilk from the mother. World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that every woman starts breastfeeding within one hour after birth until her baby is 6 months old. In fact, if possible, breastfeeding should continue for up to 2 years or beyond together with nutritious complementary foods, according to the WHO advice. In view of the importance of breastfeeding, some women are leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to give their babies the much needed natural food – even doing so in a public domain. However, not everyone welcomes the idea of public breastfeeding.

Some days ago, a young mother was reprimanded and allegedly told to cover up while breastfeeding her one-year-old in a restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya. The young mother alleged that she was told to feed her baby in the toilet, a demand that made her feel totally humiliated and devastated. This action from the restaurant prompted many angry Kenyan women to stage a protest. They marched to the restaurant, wanting to take part in a mass breastfeeding event in a solidarity with the young mother.

The latest case has triggered many discussions on the subject of breastfeeding, in general, and public breastfeeding, in particular. While some have argued that mothers should rather compliment breastfeeding with infant formula, by so doing, that would minimize the scene of breastfeeding in public. However, various research works have clearly concluded that breastfeeding is more healthy than infant formula, which usually does not contain the antibodies present in breast milk. Furthermore, breastfeeding has long-term health benefits for mothers and children. Apart from reducing the risks of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as type II diabetes, and postpartum depression, breastfeeding acts as a birth control (98% protection) in the first six months after birth. But that is not all. Breastfeeding is important for even adults as well. Adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to be overweight or obese or have type-II diabetes as adults. Moreover, they score better on intelligence tests.

Even though some individuals would insist that mothers should, in fact, complement breastfeeding with infant formula, it has been proved that the latter is medically not healthy for the child. Academic works equally warned about the dangers associated with infant formula. During preparation of infant formula, the use of unsafe water, unsterilized equipment or the presence of bacteria in powdered formula could bring health risks to the child. With the shortcomings in mind, experts insist that breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure good health and survival of a child. The milk from the breast contains all the nutrients babies need for healthy development.

Often mothers either stop breastfeeding or do so partially, due to work demands and unavailability of a storage place for the milk. This is where the whole society must do much to support breastfeeding women. They must be encouraged to breastfeed anytime,
anywhere. Breastfeeding is the best and the single most important food you can give to children for a healthy future. Interestingly, Our development goes back to childhood. If you don’t breastfeed your child, how do you think they can live healthy or fit enough to contribute positively to the society?
These children are our future leaders; by discouraging mothers to breastfeed their children whenever and where ever they want, we are indirectly creating big impediments towards realising the dream of any society: to raise up healthy and intelligent future leaders. The choice is entirely ours.