Breast milk, a renewable resource which cannot be replaced is the nature’sprecious gift to the newborn. It meets the biological process in the right proportions forgrowth and development moreover as emotional and psychological needs of the infant.Breastfeeding is safest, cheapest, best protective and easily digestible food for infants thatforestalls deficiency and helps in holistic development of the child.
Early initiation promotesphysical as well as emotional bonding with the mother by frequent skin to skin contact, it alsoreduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer of mother.
Both mother and infants are being benefited by means of nutritional,developmental, emotional, immunological, social, economic, and environmental.
Exclusivebreastfeeding minimizes an infant’s exposure to the potentially unsafe environment and savesan estimated lives about six million every year .
In India, breastfeeding appears to be influenced by social, cultural, andeconomic factors. In 1991, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) was initiatedto shield, promote and support breastfeeding.
National Rural Health Mission, that intends toimplement the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) throughthe prevailing care delivery system.
The poor health outcomes among children, notably indeveloping countries has been reported due to poor attitudes and practices towards exclusivebreastfeeding .
The target setted by the World Health Assembly to speed up the rate ofexclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to atleast 50% by 2025. Exclusivebreastfeeding rates in India had been been inflated from 46.4% in 2006 to 54.9% in 2016 andearly initiation of breastfeeding almost doubled from 23.4% to 41.6% during the sameperiod.
World Health Organization guidelines recommends that all infants should bebreastfed solely for the primary first six months of life. The risk of hospitalization for lowerrespiratory tract infections during the first year of life is reduced by 72% when infants areexclusively breastfed for more than 4 months (WHO, 2012 & Gartner, 2005).
Early initiation of breastfeeding within first thirty minutes of delivery wasimposed by WHOUNICEF’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) since the colostrum,the yellowish, sticky breast milk was formed immediately after delivery. Colostrum isrecommended by WHO as the most excellent food for the newborn. Early initiations ofbreastfeeding and continued exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months was found tohave a rising immunizing agent properties (WHOUNICEF, 2009). 10In recent years breastfeeding has been declined worldwide due to urbanizationand maternal employment. Many India studies have shown a decline in breastfeeding trends,in urban areas. In concerning with early initiation of breastfeeding is not seen in over 75% ofthe nation’s children and over 50% of children are not exclusively breastfed. This, impose theimportance of early initiation of breastfeeding in India as a matter of urgent concern. 11As a global goal for optimal child health and nutrition, all women should beenabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding , and all infants should be fed exclusively onbreast milk from first hour of birth to 6 months of age. The factors that influence theinitiation, maintenance, and duration of breastfeeding are social and cultural traditions, infantmaturity at birth, the degree of commitment, and literacy of the mother and level ofmodernity.
Breastfeeding is taken into account to be a traditional practice in India and it isbelieved that it comes ‘naturally’ to Indian mothers. However statistics show a rather dismalpicture. As per national family health survey-3 (NFHS-3), only 46% of the Indian infantsbetween 0 and 6 months are exclusively breastfed. The problem is still graver for the state ofHaryana wherever EBF rate (EFBR) was only 16.9%. where many factors are associatedmerely with poor EBFRs.
- World Health Organization – Exclusive breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Breastfeeding
- UNICEF – Breastfeeding
- World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
- KellyMom – Increasing Milk Supply
- Canadian Women’s Health Network – The Importance of Breastfeeding
- La Leche League International
- Australian Breastfeeding Association