This article originally appeared in The Hindu.
Fewer Newborns in Telangana State get Breast Milk within an Hour
In Telangana just 37% of newborns are breastfed within one hour of birth. The figure is lower than national average of 41.6%. Also, two thirds of mothers in the State breastfeed exclusively for the first six months.
This when studies have shown that breastfeeding is important to improve nutrition, education, and maternal and child health and survival of children. On average, infants younger than six months who are not breastfed are three to four times more likely to die than those who receive breast milk.
The findings were shared at Niloufer Hospital where over a hundred doctors and other medical staff formed a human chain to celebrate World Breastfeeding week that is observed from August 1 to 7. Doctors said that in modern India, where more than 90% of all births take place in healthcare facilities, creating a hospital environment where mothers are taught to breastfeed their newborns early and often is more urgent than ever.
The human chain event was organised by ACCESS Health care international, a non-profit think tank working to improve access to high quality affordable care and National Neonatology Forum, Telangana Chapter. The government of Telangana and ACCESS Health are working on an initiative to standardise labour rooms across the state, to improve the quality and efficiency of care in birthing units and maternity wards to save newborn lives and protect the health of mothers. Breast milk bank
Director Medical Education Ramesh Reddy said: “The breast milk bank which started at Niloufer to provide mother’s milk for pre-term babies is a great step in the direction of making life healthy for infants. Breastfeeding has many benefits for both women and children including saving lives, improving child health and protecting mothers against ovarian and breast cancer deaths. There is strong evidence that demonstrates the benefits of breastfeeding for children and women in high and low income countries alike.”
Director of Quality and Process Improvement at ACCESS Health International Ajitkumar Sudke said: “With the proper support, nurses and hospital staff can be important advocates for breastfeeding. Labour and delivery staff are with new mothers when they first meet their newborns and can help reassure mothers of their ability to nurse their babies, despite any initial challenges.”
The event lasted for over three hours and included participation of doctors and nurses from other hospitals.