Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed regardless of their HIV status

Breastfeeding challenges: Paediatrician urges mothers to seek medical help early

"But today, only about 23.7 per cent of women are aware of exclusive breastfeeding in the country".

World Health Organization recommends that infants start receiving complementary foods at 6 months of age in addition to breast milk, initially 2-3 times a day between 6 and 8 months, increasing to 3-4 times daily between 9 and 11 months and 12-24 months with additional nutritious snacks offered 1-2 times per day, as desired. The bank has been supplying milk for babies in the city, both in the private and government hospitals, for ten months now. "A mother might face problems like, pain while feeding, change in the nipple colour, cracked, sore nipple, Mastitis, Vasospasm, Plug Ducts, tongue or lip tie or cleft palates are some of the significant problems faced by mothers while feeding", Varsha Satyan, counsellor, Lactation Consultant, Member of Medela India LC Club says.

However, there are several other barriers to breastfeeding children including ignorance of benefits of breastfeeding, improper advice from friends and family leading to supplement breast milk with formula, lack of support for working mothers from employers in providing environment conducive for breastfeeding, and lack of trained health workers who can guide new mothers about the right techniques of breastfeeding. "Colostrum is said to be high in antibodies and reduces the risk of death from hypothermia, helps in epithelial recovery and protects children from infectious diseases".

Breast milk is full of the nutrients required by the baby.

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It is recommended that babies are fed breast milk for the first six months of life, because studies find that babies do better physically.

Isokpunwu stated that averagely, women breastfeed their babies for only 19 months while a lot of them gave babies water alongside breast milk in the first six months of life. Breastfeeding lowers the baby's risk to allergies such as asthma.

The nutritionist emphasized the importance early initiation, exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding to the health of mothers, children and the economy. One of the steps to successful exclusive breastfeeding includes allowing mothers and infants remain together 24 hours a day. Let breastfeeding and Mother's Own Milk (MOM) rock. It is important to note there are circumstances that make it challenging or not possible to breastfeed. In fact, breastfeeding rates within the first hour after birth are highest in eastern and southern Africa (65%) and lowest in east Asia and the Pacific (32%), the report said. Supportive healthcare systems, adequate maternity leave entitlements, workplace interventions, counselling and educational programmes can all help to improve breastfeeding rates.

Breastfeeding has also been identified as a high-impact intervention to achieve the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health (2016-2030), which was launched alongside the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a roadmap for ending preventable deaths in a generation.

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