Only half of Azerbaijani infants fed by breast milk in first year of life
World Breastfeeding Week is being observed in Azerbaijan.
The head pediatrician of the Minister of Health Nasib Quliyev says only 50 per cent of newborns are breastfed through the first year of life. In 1992, this indicator was at just 25 per cent.
The Ministry of Health hopes to raise that number to 80 per cent, similar to the indicators for Germany and The Netherlands.
Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Azerbaijan Min Yuan says that the organisation is concerned by the low level of breastfeeding in the country which is not compensated for by the aid of dry mixes. This is despite the fact that UNICEF is active in cooperating with the government to teach mothers about the importance of breastfeeding and trains nurses to inform others of the benefits of breastfeeding newborns.
Pediatrician Emilia Rahimova says that newborns in the country have been deprived of milk for two reasons:
- Mothers for one reason or another cannot produce milk;
- Mothers purposefully decide not to breastfeed their children, afraid of ruining the form of their breasts or not wanting to observe the dietary requirements of breastfeeding mothers.
“These women harm not only their children but themselves as well. Stored breastmilk can lead to breast engorgement. Of course, there are no mixes that will replace a mother’s milk and no, refusing to breastfeed won’t have any serious effects in the future, but a child that breastfeeds has a higher chance of growing up healthy and with a strong immune system,” says Rahimova.
Rahimova also added that some young mothers are simply badly informed when it comes to breastfeeding and do not know how to care for themselves and to produce enough milk and avoid undesired side-effects.
“I know, for example, of a case of a woman who decided not to breastfeed her child because she was concerned about calcium depletion. Whatever folk remedies there were for this, she tried. When women breastfeed, they do indeed lose a lot of calcium. But in order to solve this problem, one must simply consume foods and beverages rich in calcium and to take the proper medications – the answer is not in denying one’s milk to one’s child.”