Most mothers nowadays tend to choose manufactured milk over breast milk to feed their newborn. Hammam Qandeel, a pediatric neurologist and a lactation consultant for the past 25 years, believes mothers should reconsider feeding their child with the best natural food available: their very own breast milk.
Qandeel makes sure to visit new mothers within hours after they gave birth. “In that critical moment, mommies usually complain of pain, emotional imbalance and lack of sleep. They can easily get frustrated when their body does not produce milk,” said Qandeel, “They turn to the easiest way out by buying their comfort through manufactured milk.”
An infant is born with a tiny stomach of three to four centimeters in height. Colostrum, the first secretion from the mammary glans after giving birth, appears in the right dose to fit the newborn’s stomach. It is rich in antibodies, proteins, vitamins and sodium chloride. Most importantly, colostrum contains growth factors and antimicrobial factors, which provide passive immunity for the newborn.
Colostrum becomes available from the mother’s body for three to four days, just enough time to feed the newborn on those first few days when they are constantly hungry.
When the newborn consumes colostrum, the production of oxytocin is stimulated. This hormone assists in achieving maternal bonding; it stimulates the nipples and eases the breastfeeding, and helps in contracting the uterus.
“Many mommies complain of stomach aches and tiredness after breastfeeding,” said Qandeel, “This is normal, because the uterus is shaping back to its normal size.”
Qandeel noted that manufactured milk, no matter how sterile it is produced, remains impure and is likely to cause gases and constipation in the baby.
In some cases, he continued, bottled milk can cause infections and may even cause death. “I don’t usually tell mommies about the dark side of manufactured milk. They don’t deserve to hear it in that critical phase, though I do tell them it can be harmful and advise them to read about it. Mommies may think bottled milk will make their tired, sleep-deprived easier now, but breastfeeding definitely contributes to raising a strong and healthy baby.”
In 1992, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) started a worldwide program called “The Baby Friendly Initiative.” It was prompted after groups, like the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), claimed that promoting infant formulas caused unnecessary suffering of babies.
Nestlé was one of the major companies that were labeled as The Baby Killer.
The United States soon launched the Nestlé boycott in 1977, which spread afterwards into Europe. They claimed that Nestle had an aggressive marketing of breast milk substituents, infant formulas. It was marketed especially in economically underdeveloped countries.
They did not only manufacture and market the product; they also hired nurses and physicians to sell the product.
The Baby Friendly Initiative was created to ensure that all maternity wards were supportive of breastfeeding and would not provide breast milk substituents, like bottles, teats or dummies.
The initiative has implemented 10 steps to support successful breastfeeding.
In countries where the Baby Friendly Initiative classified hospitals as Baby Friendly Hospitals, child health improved, as well as the mother’s health.
Out of 4,000 hospitals in Saudi Arabia, only 23 hospitals are baby-friendly.
“No institutes or hospitals in Jeddah, Riyadh or Dammam are geared toward supporting or promoting breastfeeding. Almost all of them support manufactured milk,” said Qandeel. “New mommies should get the proper education and understanding of what is best for them and their babies.”
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