SPOKANE, Washington- Many benefits are made when woman decide to breastfeed, especially woman in poverty-stricken countries. Breast milk is nature’s number one super food. At first this precious milk presents itself as a thick, rich liquid known as colostrum.
Colostrum is present for the first three days of nursing. This food is rich in nourishing fats, vital brain development and body growth. Antibodies are also found in high amounts in colostrum. These antibodies are passed on to infants safe guarding them from illness and disease. Studies show babies fed breast milk straight from birth are 15 times less likely to die from undernourishment and disease.
After three days of colostrum, the breast milk turns to regular milk. However, there is nothing regular about this milk. This “liquid gold” will give infants everything they need to grow happy and healthy. The breast milk is still highly nourishing and contains a perfect balance of fats and calories as well as antibodies to strengthen an infant’s immune system.
Surprisingly, formula companies have something to do with this plummet.
It began in the 1970’s, when formula companies began reaching out to new mothers in developing countries. The companies would distribute formula samples throughout the hospitals and villages. Brochures were also distributed conveying false information on how mothers should not breast feed.
The new mothers confused that their breast milk was not good enough for their fragile infants stopped nursing them and began feeding their babies with the samples given. The formula companies preyed on mothers who were vulnerable and unsure if they were caring properly for their own child. Planting a seed of doubt that maybe they were harming their children through breast milk.
What happened was tragic. The mothers soon ran out of formula samples and at the same time their nourishing breast milk dried up. Many babies ended up starving to death because of this.
For the mothers that were able to barely afford more formula, the problems did not end there. These poverty stricken mothers knew they had little money for more milk supplement, so the mothers began diluting the milk substitute with too much water.
It has taken years to reverse these falsified thoughts and get communities back on track with breastfeeding. It continues to be an issue today. Breastfeeding rates are still shockingly low.
Child mortality and lack of breast feeding are closely linked. If communities in developing nations can be given the tools and support to breastfeed their children deaths will drop. Continued promotion and supportive laws will eventually bring breastfeeding rates where they should be.
– Amy Robinson
Sources: UNICEF, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Save the Children