Enhancing Maternal Safety by Promoting Breast Feeding

Tuesday, 8 July 2008: 8:30 AM
Yasmin Murad Mithani, RN, RM, BScN, IBCLC , School of Nursing, The Aga Khan University School of Nursing, Karachi, Pakistan
Zohra Kurji, BScN, RN, IBCLC , School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
Shehnaz Rashid, BScN, RN, IBCLC , Lactation Clinic, Maternal and Child Health Center, Sharjah. Ministry of Health, UAE, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Zahra Shaheen, BScN, RN, IBCLC , Catco Kids, Inc, Catco Kids Inc, Karachi, Pakistan

Learning Objective 1: Describe how breastfeeding boosts maternal safety

Learning Objective 2: Discuss the strategies for offering support to the mothers during prenatal and postnatal period for enhancing exclusive breastfeeding

Breast feeding is the nature's precious and ultimate gift that enhances and safeguards health for both mother and her child. The promotion and support of breast feeding should emerge as public health priority where health care personnel can play their roles at various levels. World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended exclusive breast feeding for first six months of an infant's life and continuing it for two years. In Pakistan the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding pattern is only 16% while its 31% for breastfeeding with complementary foods (<6-9 months), and 56% for breastfeeding till the age of 20-23 months (UNICEF, 2005). Such low breastfeeding rates are attributed to lack of family support for continuing breastfeeding, insufficient prenatal breastfeeding education and inadequate breastfeeding support for working mothers from their employers, despite having evidence from numerous researches of greater health benefits for mothers who exclusively breastfeed their children. These mothers are at lower risk of breast, uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancers, reduced risk for osteoporosis, and decreased requirement for insulin in diabetic mothers. In addition to this, psychologically breastfeeding increases and improves mother and child bonding thus increasing mother's self-esteem. Hence, successful initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding should be one of the major goals of maternal and child health, and public health professionals. In this regard mothers need active and effective support during the prenatal and postnatal period; not only from their families and community, but also from the entire health system.