Lactating mothers are faced with multiple challenges as they strive to practice exclusive breastfeeding. So encouragement from those closest to her is vital
Mother’s milk is considered the best nutrition for babies and the only food that they need for the first 6 months of their life. Studies have shown that children, who are sufficiently breastfed, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea. However, despite the associated benefits many Indian mothers do away with it at the fourth month itself, reveals the latest NFHS.
Lactating mothers are faced with multiple challenges as they strive to practice exclusive breastfeeding. It is emotionally demanding, physically exhausting, and uncomfortable at times. It is not always easy, particularly if a mother is experiencing problems or feeling particularly tired and isolated, so encouragement from those closest to her is vital.
“Many women have expressed that they find it very difficult to balance all the new roles and responsibilities after delivery. The care of the new born, coupled with household and professional obligations are too much. They get overwhelmed and emotional and often discontinue exclusive breastfeeding after the first few months. This is where a strong supportive environment could make a difference. There is evidence that, support from the family and workplace has a significant positive impact on the mother in her choice to breastfeed the child”, says paediatrician Shivanand Y Gauns, of Gauns Child Care Hospital.
“Breastfeeding is mistakenly considered to be confined to women and babies, but fathers play a much bigger role than they are led to believe. We know from research that support from the father has a considerable impact on the mother’s decision to continue breastfeeding. Fathers have tremendous potential to facilitate the success of breastfeeding. The more father knows about breastfeeding along with the willingness to help and encourage her, the more likely the mother will breastfeed successfully”, says Gauns.
Fathers can start by creating and providing a positive environment towards breastfeeding in motivating and supporting the mother. They should be attentive to the needs of the mother and child. By being helpful around the house and sharing in the responsibility of burping, diaper changing and bathing the newborn they can ease pressure of the mother.
Grandmothers play an equally important role and are an important source of support for new mothers. Their parenting experience can influence the mother’s decision to not only initiate but continue breastfeeding. Her assistance in taking care of the baby and domestic responsibilities can make a big difference to the mother, especially in the early months.
In today’s’ world a large number of women work. Balancing work and family life is an important priority for them. But sometimes due to work they end to discontinue breastfeeding. Studies show that organisations that support working moms in their transition back to work find it is good for business. Organisations need to create a workplace environment that is supportive and respectful of a woman’s decision to breastfeed. As an employer there are three ways to support breastfeeding working moms; Time, Space and Encouragement
- Time: Providing adequate and flexible maternity leave suited to the mother’s needs over and above the minimum legal requirement.
- Space: Making provisions of private and hygienic lactation rooms where mothers can express milk.
- Encouragement: Supporting the mother with her workload with the help of her colleagues and providing job security. “There is a need to create awareness not only among young mothers and their families but also the society at large. No tin milk can match the composition of the biological factors present in breast milk. Research has proved its tremendous potential in terms of immune protection, prevention of recurrent infections’, some protections against allergic disorders, better IQ and better emotional bonding and a whole lot of maternal benefits. It is time we introspect what is important not only for the health of our children but the future health of our country”, says Gauns.