Breastfeeding a baby is the most joyful experience a woman can go through. It is so natural, so loving, and so important for both the baby and the mother.
Breastfeeding your baby is a decision you should take before your baby arrives. Moms who had sufficient knowledge about all aspects of breastfeeding prior to the arrival of the baby are more likely to raise an exclusive breastfed baby, which is a huge achievement!
The majority of Saudi women are well aware of the great benefits of breastfeeding. Around 90% of mothers start by exclusive breastfeeding for the first two months of the baby’s life; however, the percentage dramatically declines to 30% by the time the baby’s 3rd month, even though the period of exclusive breastfeeding that is recommended by the World Health Organization is 6 months. In fact, few factors are responsible for this trend decreasing among Saudi mothers.
The first factor is the perception of insufficient breast milk. The old generation has been brainwashed regarding breast milk adequacy of new mothers (due to the influential public advertisement of formula milk). When the current generation of mothers seek their expertise, use of formula would be the primary advice, which strongly confuses new mothers, thus they would start to disbelieve in their breastfeeding ability.
The second factor is lack of breastfeeding knowledge. The excellent clinical prenatal care that Saudi women receive rarely includes any breastfeeding education. The only information women usually receive is regarding the benefits of breastfeeding excluding all the obstacles a woman can face during the journey of breastfeeding, how to overcome them, why and how to pump, or even the possibility of fasting Ramadan while breastfeeding!
The third factor is unsupportive work environment for females. Working mothers should be back to work while their babies are not even 3 months old, plus they do not usually have a private room which they can utilize to pump their milk. Therefore, the breasts are filled up with unexpressed milk which sends signals to the brain that this is a surplus milk leading eventually to diminished milk supply. All of these factors, and more, have been significantly discouraging the continuation of breastfeeding among young mothers.
With the existing social media, self-education about breastfeeding is handier than ever. Don’t forget moms… Breastfeeding is a gift that lasts a lifetime!