Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Photos courtesy of Save the Children Jordan

Every Child’s Superfood!

Paediatrician Dr Aseel Jallad with her boy

Like every mother, I want to give my child the best start in life. So while breastfeeding didn’t come naturally to me, I knew that determination would pay off – both for me and my baby. Granted, I had the luxury of giving birth at one of the top maternity hospitals in Jordan, with a lactation consultant on duty to help advise. Even when I went home, I knew she was just a phone call away. 
Now imagine pregnant women fleeing war torn countries, making the dangerous journey across treacherous terrain and giving birth in refugee camps in Jordan. There are on average about 16 deliveries per week in Zaatari refugee camp, home to 80,000 Syrian refugees. 

Fortunately, Save the Children Jordan is working to address the unique healthcare needs of expectant and new mothers, in part through the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Programme. The programme helps pregnant women and mothers overcome significant barriers to successful breastfeeding in order to support: 

*Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth
*Exclusive breastfeeding for infants under six months 
*Appropriate and timely introduction of complementary food along with breastfeeding after six months

While breastfeeding seems like a personal matter, the reality is that it has far-reaching implications and should be a concern for us all – in Jordan and all over the world. After all, breastfeeding has little to no cost and can have a profound effect on health globally. 

The Hard Facts
Newborn deaths represent nearly half of all the seven million child deaths under five years of age (mainly from preventable causes). Immediate breastfeeding (putting the baby to the mother’s breast within an hour after birth) significantly reduces child mortality. Yet, less than half of the world’s newborns benefit from early breastfeeding and even fewer are exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children. If all women around the world breastfed their babies immediately after birth, the lives of almost one million babies a year could be saved. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months could save even more lives!

It’s hard to believe that so few women breastfeed when it has a profound impact on a child’s survival, health, nutrition and development. Breastfeeding gives children the healthiest start in life and is one of the simplest, smartest and most cost-effective ways we have of ensuring that all children survive and thrive. 

Breastfeeding Saves Lives
In an emergency setting, limited access to clean water, sterilised feeding bottles and appropriate and timely health services can have devastating effects on children. Thus, breastfeeding, even under difficult situations like political conflicts and natural disasters, is known to be the safest way to protect infants and young children from an increased risk of infection, malnutrition and even death.

Breastfeeding can prevent:
*Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
*Childhood illness 
*Health problems (allergies, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, respiratory infections)
*Chronic conditions later in life (obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, childhood asthma and childhood leukaemia)

Breastfeeding can improve:
*Growth and physical development 
*Brain development 
*Cognitive performance 
*The special bond between mother and baby (this is important for a child’s sense of wellbeing and security well into adulthood)

Breastfeeding can protect a mother’s health:
*Helps reduce the risk of bleeding after delivery (responsible for around 25% of maternal mortality worldwide)
*Reduces breast, uterine and ovarian cancer

Breastfeeding has even more benefits for women: 
*Help the uterus return to its normal size more quickly
*Helps in losing the pregnancy weight
*Is more than 98% effective as a contraceptive method during the first six months, provided that breastfeeding is exclusive and amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) persists
*Is convenient, always clean and at the right temperature and available anytime, anywhere!

For more information about the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Programme or other initiatives, contact Save the Children Jordan by calling +962-6-5662012 or emailing

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