Let's convince our young mothers that no mammal in the animal kingdom denies its kid breast milk.

Scenario 1: An air-conditioned consultation room with cozy interiors in a metropolitan city. Enters a young mother clad in an ultra modern dress. The consultant paediatrician examines her baby and asks her whether she breastfeeds her exclusively. She chuckles and names a popular brand of infant milk substitute. Will someone please explain how these brands become popular when The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes prevents any form of advertising? Her purse outweighs the doctor's advice and she walks out coolly just to make another ceremonial visit some time later.

Scenario 2: A semi-ventilated room with naked furniture and a bellowing fan in a rural area. A woman in dirty linen, embracing poverty as her religion visits her doctor. Here too, the same question is asked put up indeed with a tinge of nativity. The reply is almost the same, except that the latter utters it with a different accent and pronunciation.

The above instances are not rare phenomena, but rather a common observation in our diverse economic and social setup. In either case, the mother is neither guilty nor heavy-hearted to divulge that she couldn't or doesn't breastfeed her baby.

Irrespective of their social background, women are indeed ignorant of the fact that it is the baby's right to be breastfed. Of course, how can we expect our mothers to be aware of their child's right when they are ignorant of their own? (Does someone whisper that the women's reservation bill is in its final phase?)

How callous have we become over the years to deny a child its nature's share. What is more unfortunate, we are not even aware of the fact that we deny our little ones the right they deserve. I fear that the digitalised civilisation is turning nature's gift alien to our kids.

A woman's bosom (usually in a semi-naked pose) is projected by our media gurus to advertise anything from perfume to fabric, from necklace to automobile. What a ruthless, insensible perverted notion is this! Our silence has been taken as approval by these elements. Had any one cared to acknowledge that it is the organ nature has gifted to secrete elixir?

The transformation from home to house, from mother to mummy and from joint family to nuclear family dictated and maintained by the digital revolution has started taking its toll. In fact, I feel we have committed ethical and traditional suicide. Human values and culture are being constantly buried. A vast majority of our population is steeped in ignorance and subsist in ambiguity without being able to identify what is wrong and what is right.

Let us contemplate what best could be done to mitigate the situation. Is it not our duty to cut down the shackles which have tied up the minds of our fellow womenfolk? Are we not duty-bound to instil the importance of breastfeeding to our young mothers?

Is not breast milk the birthright of the baby? Let's convince our young mothers that no mammal in the animal kingdom denies its kid breast milk.

Our civilisation has learned the art of stealing — three-fourths of cow's milk and leaving one-fourth to the calf. Even with this reduced milk, the calf survives. So how healthy would be the kid, if the mother feeds the baby with her breast?

Goddess Parvathi breastfed baby Thirugnana Sambandhar, a Saivite saint of Tamil Nadu, when he cried out of hunger. The all-powerful almighty didn't find any other means to suppress hunger. She gave him her milk.

Let's remember these axiomatic truths:

Breast milk is a unique and precious gift of nature and has no price.

It helps the infant fight infection and diseases.

It is easily assimilated by the baby due to the perfect combination of protein, lactose and fat.

There are health benefits both for the mother and the child.

Breastfed infants are less prone to childhood obesity than others.

Breastfed infants have a higher IQ than those that are not.

Nursing mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of acquiring premenopausal breast cancer and decreased risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.

Breast-fed infants are closer to their mothers and feel secure with them more than others. There is a special feeling of bonding between them which cannot be valued by any scale.

(The writer is a doctor based in Tirunelveli and his email is: drpdorai@yahoo.com)

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