Experts stress breastfeeding

Experts stress breastfeeding

Photo for representation. File photo

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5

Just 53.1 per cent of children under three years are breastfed within an hour of birth in Punjab, even though it should be more than 90 per cent. Besides, only 55.5 per cent children are exclusively breastfed for up to six months, say health experts.

The assertion, made during the ongoing Breastfeeding Week, comes at a time when the national breastfeeding average of children under the age of three continues to be just 41.8 per cent. In an attempt to bring about a change and “sensitise different sets of population, including health functionaries” on the issue, the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF chapter) of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics and other associations are holding a series of webinars.

Dr Kanya Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Neonatology, Department of Paediatrics, PGI, Chandigarh, and secretary of the IYCF chapter, said “The WHO and UNICEF recommend initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, feeding infants only breast milk for the first six months and continued breastfeeding up to two years or beyond, with the introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary solid foods at six months. Yet, we are so complacent.”

Emphasising the need for working mothers to breastfeed their babies even during “special circumstances”, Dr Balraj Yadav said the option of expressed breast milk, too, could be explored. It stays in a good condition for 24 hours in a refrigerator and for at least eight hours even during the summers when kept in a cool and dark place.

Dr Yadav said the caregiver, at the same time, should be taught to give breast milk properly and carefully with a spoon to the baby when the mother was away for work. All working mothers could continue to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months with this and other suitable strategies.

Another expert, Dr HB Mallikarjuna said positioning the nipple was the only change that might be needed while feeding most babies born with a cleft lip, so the baby could latch.

Dr Rajinder Gulati, a moderator, said caesarean sections were rising globally, accounting for more than 21 per cent of all childbirths.

Expressed breast milk

Dr Balraj Yadav said the option of expressed breast milk, too, could be explored. It stays in a good condition for 24 hours in a refrigerator and for at least eight hours even during the summers when kept in a cool and dark place.

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