The number of institutional deliveries in Rajasthan has increased appreciably during last 10 years but, despite that breastfeeding within one hour of the birth is very low.From medical reasons to traditional myths and now modern lifestyle, number of factors are depriving newborns in the state from getting their mother’s first secretion which provides initial immunity to them.Dismal DataIn Rajasthan, according to National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) -4 (2015-16), institutional deliveries including public and private facilities are as high as 84 per cent. But around 72 per cent children under the age of 3 years were not breastfed within one hour of birth due to different reasons leaving them vulnerable to malnutrition or even death. Prior to that, in NFHS-3 (2005-06), institutional delivery in Rajasthan was almost 30 per cent and only 13 per cent of children under the age of 3 years were breastfed within an hour of birth.Not a Jaadu Ki GhuttiExperts says that the reason behind contradiction has a lot to do with the state being deeply rooted in culture and complex geographical and economical scenario. “Due to prevalent myth, we see family members pouring drops of honey, water or jaggery into newborn’s mouth. It is popularly known as ghutti. In case of pre-mature delivery or poor physical condition due to ignorance and negligence in care during pregnancy, a number of mothers are unable to breastfeed their newborn. Weak babies, born in such a condition, are also unable to suck,” Neveen Jain, Mission Director, National Health Mission said.Director, reproductive and child health, Dr SM Mittal, while speaking about the gap between institutional deliveries and breastfeeding within an hour of birth said, “It is social and traditional myth, which is largely depriving children from breastfeeding within one hour of birth. We are creating awareness towards this and are hopeful that the figure will improve.”‘Golden Hour Feeding’“The first secretion of mother contains high amount of lactogen in carbohydrates which is important for growth of intestines. Mother’s milk also contains immunoglobulin that develops immunity in infant. The recovery of babies born prematurely is 40 per cent faster if they are given mother’s milk. Breastfeeding is beneficial for mother as well because breast feeding brings down possibility of breast cancer and help to get uterus in shape soon.”Dr Virendra Mittal, pediatrician at Metro Mas Hospital said.Apart from breastfeeding within one hour of delivery, according to the latest survey, around 42 per cent children under six months are not exclusively breastfed in the state.This is one of the reasons why the state has the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of 41 against the national IMR of 34 as per the Sample Registration Survey- 2016.Plans in PipelineSo, does the state health department has any plan to fix the problem? “To increase breastfeeding is a key component of our state’s strategy to curb malnutrition and cut IMR. For the purpose, 13 breastfeeding clinics at the mother milk banks in 13 cities have been established. These breastfeeding clinics will create awareness and facilitate breastfeeding, and also train, assist and treat lactating mothers. These clinics will also be helpful for mothers who have a premature delivery, newborns unable to suckle because of cleft lips, retracted nipple, non-formation of milk etc. They will also counsel and train family members of the new mother not to give honey, water, ghutti and the like for first six months,” Devendra Agarwal, adviser to the state for Aanchal Mother’s milk bank project told DNA.There are more efforts in pipeline. “Five more milk banks will be opened in next two months, which will also have breastfeeding clinics. Apart from these, 25 breastfeeding clinics will come up in next six months in districts with a high delivery load,” Agarwal added.
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