Author: Nasir Ateeq, December 24 2016 - Kittens here are blessed with early initiation and exclusive mother milk!! Their caring mother, without receiving messages through communication campaigns, just instinctively feeds them her milk. They should grow up healthy and intelligent as they suck out uncontaminated feeding in the form of pure mother milk which protects them from infectious diseases and ensures zero risk of stunting. Other mammals too follow the same practice of feeding their newborn ones. One wonders why, except for human beings, who in many cases don’t practice early initiation and exclusive mother milk feeding, almost all mammals instinctively practice natural biological and hormonal processes of early initiation and exclusively feed their babies with mother milk during infancy?? Evidences reveal over 38.5% U5 [National Factsheet RSOC, 02-07-2015, new.doc; page-4] (under 5-year-old children) are stunted in India. Breastfeeding is one of the critical behaviours to reduce the U5 mortality. The exclusive mother milk feed to infants during the first six months reduces chances of diarrhea and pneumonia. There are incidences of children wasting in many societies which can also be prevented by the practice of exclusively mother’s milk feed during infancy.

Stunting and wasting cause frequent sickness among children and their mental and physical growth is severely affected. Consequently, such children remain dependent on their families and society for the fulfilment of their economic and social needs which is affecting development of societies which they belong to. Obviously not the infants, but their parents and communities are responsible for such a situation in which individuals don’t practice exclusive mother milk feeding, and their social ecology doesn’t create supportive norms and environment for mothers to perform early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding.

A friend asked: “When, why and how in the history of social and cultural evolution did human being have to interrupt the healthy instinctive practices like early initiation and exclusive mother milk feeding??” This is a question easy to ask, but difficult to answer. An investigation to find answers to such questions should be helpful to convincingly inform sections of human societies for the revival of safe and healthily instinctive exclusively mother’s milk feeding for all human newborn babies.

The promotion of breastfeeding traces back to the 15th-century Europe to use cow or goat milk, but these attempts were not successful. In 1974 new breastfeeding promotional campaign helped to boost the awareness of its benefits. Recent years have witnessed renewed thrust on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been agreed as a key to Sustainable Development. World Breastfeeding Week 2016 held on 1-7 August 2016 was part of the renewed thrust on exclusive mother milk for infants. 

In early 2016, breastfeeding selfies went viral on social media: famous mothers uploaded their photos of breastfeeding their babies with taglines like “breast is best”. The World Breastfeeding Campaign 2016 inspired Google Doodle which roped in famous artists, pioneers and scientists to promote breastfeeding. The MAA Campaign launched in India in 2016. In Hindi, MAA means mother, which here actually is the acronym of ‘Mother's Absolute Affection’. The MAA Campaign promotes exclusive breastfeeding for six months with early initiation and colostrum feeding.

One hopes that various campaigns being conducted to promote exclusive breastfeeding in different parts of the world have taken into consideration the social and historical perspective of disruption in early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding in human social and cultural history; and linking the same with the revival of the natural biological early initiation with colostrum feeding which can protect thousands of human babies from various infectious diseases and can help proper development of their body and brains for them to become efficient and productive adults contributing to make healthy, happy and prosperous society.

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