Dr. Shipra Sharma Every year from 1st August to 7th August, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated with a mission to spread awareness about breast feeding among new parents and to give health benefits to infants all over the world. The goal behind this campaign is to motivate mothers for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. Breast feed itself is a complete diet for a new born and considered to be the first vaccine, as it gives health, immunity, nutritional and emotional benefits to both mothers and baby. In present era it has become a trend to give formula milk in feeding bottles to babies. Even on packings of formula milk it is clearly written that “Mother’s Milk Is Best For Your Baby” but the modern mothers are forgetting the side-effects of formula milk, as it trouble the baby, not easily digested and causes the irritability, crying after feeding, nausea, vomiting etc. Not only this, the bottles which are used for feeding should be properly sterilized and in absence of proper sterilization, the babies are easily caught by the infections and fall ill. Hence, breast feeding is ideally the best suitable and healthier choice. Breastfeeding should be started within the first hour after the delivery. Exclusive breastfeeding should be continued for six months. Breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond, gives a powerful line of defense against all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity. Mothers should breast feed the baby in right way and right position. Always wash the hands before breastfeeding, avoid washing nipples with soap as it removes healthy natural oils and create dry and irritated skin, instead clean the breast with warm water. In order to breastfeed the baby, mother should sit comfortably and hold the baby in the crook of the arm opposite the breast from which she has to feed the baby. She should support the baby’s head and with other hand support the breast thereby guiding the baby’s mouth to breast. Mother should not bend over or lean forward. Feeding the baby correctly will help to keep away the different breast problems e.g sore nipples, engorgement etc. The baby should have the whole nipple in mouth along with areola, the tongue should be down and lips should be turned out against the breast. Why Breast Feeding is important? To the baby * Physical benefits- promotes bonding and warmth between mother and baby * Nutritional benefits- gives optimal nutrition to the baby. * Immunological advantages: * Enhances growth regulating factors (e.g.,somatomedin, IGF etc) * Provides protective shield by increasing immunity * Contributes to the growth of favorable intestinal bacteria. * Prevents the development of allergies & diabetes. * Prepare baby to cope with high dietary cholesterol in later life, etc. To the mother * Develops the bond between mother and infant * Economical and convenient too * Oxytocin secreted during breast feeding helps to reduce the post partum bleeding & anemia and also hastens the involution of uterus. * Helps in shredding extra fat accumulated during pregnancy. * Reduce the future risk of breast cancer & ovarian cancer Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical science, has already described the importance of breast milk thousands of years ago. In ancient classical books of ayurveda , acharyas give the concept of “Dhatri”. Immediate requirement of the baby after birth is feeding. But in the absence of mother either due to death or mechanical and pathological condition related to breast feeding, although cow milk is readily available, Ayurveda emphasizes on human milk as “Dhatri”(wet nurse) as an immediate next choice of feeding in the absence of mother. Dhatri milk is best option as it fulfills specific nature of breast milk which animal milk can’t provide. Lord Sri Krishna was also fed with the Dhatri milk of Yashodha, as his mother Devaki was in prison. As per ayurveda, what so ever eatables are being consumed by a pregnant lady is utilized in three ways. One part nourishes the fetus, another part nourishes the mother (pregnant lady) and the third part nourishes the breast thereby forming the milk in breast. Acharya Charak has mentioned the qualities of an ideal breast and breast milk for babies. He told that the excellence of breast consists of breast not too high, not too long, not too corpulent; having nipples of appropriate size and easy in sucking. He also told that the excellent milk has normal color, smell, taste, & touch; dissolves completely in water if milked in water pot because of its watery nature, such milk is nourishing and health giving. In ayurveda, there are various drugs and ways to increase the breastmilk in mothers whose milk production is less. All types of fermented formulations except seedhu (fermented sugarcane juice), urban food, fish, liquid diet, fresh vegetables, meat, sweet, sour, salty food and all ksheera aushadis like panchksheeri vriksh milk are also considered as the best to increase milk in mothers. There is no straight forward treatment for increasing breast milk in modern science, although side effects of certain drugs are seen in order to increase the production. Concept of Ayurveda, in this regard looks more practical, and certain drugs are more commonly used in day to day clinical practice and as home remedy. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) and Vidharigandha (pueraria tuberose) are commonly used and are known to increase prolactine level in blood. In Indian culture, many drugs which are in kitchen like Shunthi (ginger), Lashuna ( garlic), Dhanyaka ( coriander), Jeeraka (cumin), Methi (fenugreek) etc are effective in increasing breast milk. It is very important message to the society and it should be spread to each and every corner of the world that all new mothers should adopt the breastfeeding to nourish the babies as it is much safer and healthier method to feed as compared to other available options. (The author is Consultant/Lecturer, Department of Prasuti & Stri Roga, Govt. Ayurvedic medical College, Akhnoor, Jammu.)
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