Infant mortality and malnutrition have been major global health problems for years. Although there has been a slight decline in the worldwide infant mortality rate over the past couple of decades, malnutrition is still a challenge that many people face. According to UNICEF, nearly half of all child deaths under five years of age are infants. It has been proven that immediate breastfeeding, within an hour after birth, can help to significantly reduce the risk that an infant will die or experience malnutrition.
Optimal breastfeeding has the potential to reduce child deaths under the age of five by over 12 percent. Breast milk provides essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to babies and is obviously free of charge for mothers. This makes it essential that we are advocating breastfeeding as a necessity in the first two years of a child’s life, no matter if the mother and child live in a developed or underdeveloped country.
Breastfed children have “at least six times greater chance of survival in the early months” than non-breastfed children. Early breastfeeding not only helps children survive, but it supports healthy brain development, and greatly improves cognitive performance. It is recommended that women exclusively breastfeed their children for the first 6 months of life, then practice a mixed feeding routine for the next two years.
Although this is a seemingly common practice in developed countries, many women in developing countries do not have enough knowledge to know how to properly care for and breastfeed their infants. Breastfeeding can be difficult and many women do not have the guidance that they need in order to find success with their newborn. In addition, many women are expected to continue working at the same caliber just after their child is born, which impacts the amount of time and attention that women are able to give to breastfeeding their new child.
It is important that we continue finding ways to advocate for breastfeeding, provide health education, and push for cultures to understand that post-pardum women need more time to recover and take care of their newborns than they are currently being given. I firmly believe that breastfeeding is important. I think that it is a natural given way for us to lower infant mortality and make sure that our children are growing into healthy individuals. It is the best way to kickstart positive health and it is free of charge to all women. I feel as though it is our duty to educate about, advocate for, and aid all women in the positives of breastfeeding.
“Nutrition: Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding.” UNICEF. World Health Organization, 28 Dec. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
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