Mothers choosing or able to breastfeed their babies in the first hour after birth can boost their immune systems and give them vital nutrients. Women’s health groups play an important role in helping, enabling and empowering women to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding can be difficult, yet successfully doing so can reduce the risk of babies getting infections or diseases, including diarrhoea. These vital antibodies are not included in formula milk or the water and honey given to babies in some communities.
Colostrum – the milk a mother produces shortly before birth – is particularly nutritious and beneficial for the baby. It is highly encouraged that, where possible, women can give this to their newborn babies.
Women and Children First has set up women’s health groups in some of the world’s poorest communities. These groups can help mothers understand the benefits and advantages of breastfeeding, as well as empowering women to be able to overcome any challenges they face. Many women struggle to get their child to latch, but through the support of their health groups, they are able to succeed.
Women worldwide are feeling the benefit of this support from their groups. Flider talks about the effect the women’s health groups in Uganda had on her daughter. She says “Since Innocent joined the group I see a positive change in her behaviour. She has learnt lots about hygiene, the benefits of breastfeeding and a balanced diet.”
In Bhatgram in Bangladesh, a mother says “Now the community knows that breastfeeding is nutritious and good for a newborn baby’s health. They feed mother’s milk to babies, rather than water, honey or water mixed with misri.”
Shapla, another mother in Bangladesh, agrees about the impact that the group has had. “I know now how to keep my child healthy. This information is important. It helps us look after ourselves and our families better.”
This support has proven to be effective. In the Nkhotakota District of Malawi, the women’s health groups have helped increase breastfeeding rates from 54% to 73% - improving the health of babies.
To help us support and empower more women to successfully breastfeed their children, please donate to Women and Children First.