Working mothers get little time to breastfeed

Even as the government promotes mother’s milk for infants for up to six months after birth, doctors in the city raise concern over decline in breastfeeding by urban mothers who are burdened by career demands.

This decline has been observed mainly in the working mothers who do not get maternity leave and are asked to join work within weeks of delivery.
As a result, even if the infants are fed mother’s milk eventually in the day, they miss out on the required quota.

The requisite quota gains even more prominence since UNICEF guidelines state that infants should be fed nothing but mother’s milk — not even water, sugar water, or juices — for the first six months of life to achieve maximum growth and development.
Ahead of the World Breastfeeding Day that begins on Thursday, doctors also stress on the need to provide mother’s milk to the infants within an hour of birth.

“If a mother goes through cesarean delivery, she is under medical care after the surgery, because of which the infant often misses out on the first milk,” says Dr Satish Saluja, consultant neonatologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Colostrum, also called first milk, occurs during pregnancy and lasts for three to four days after birth. It is considered a high-octane diet for the child and is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The role of colostrum is to pass on antibodies from a mother to a baby to provide passive immunity. This is crucial as the child’s immune system is still undeveloped and vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections.

Saluja said lack of awareness about the importance of mothers’ milk has been instrumental in compromising with the health of infants.

Doctors also say that no kind of formula milk — a marketed substitute for mothers’ milk — can provide the important immune protection factors that is essential for children.

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