COIMBATORE: Nowadays mothers in Coimbatore stop breastfeeding early, which will lead to a young India with very low immunity, say paediatricians.
Unlike in the past when mothers would breastfeed their babies for as long as they could, few women now want to continue it beyond one year for various reasons.
However, paediatricians recommend breastfeeding till the child is two years old and also advice stopping it gradually. But many mothers in the city approach them with requests for medications to help them end breastfeeding in less than a year.
Express spoke to several young mothers, all below 30 years old, for their views on the suitable time to stop breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding for one year is not a problem, but the child may then start asking for milk anywhere: at functions, in public places, malls, theatre, office. It would be very awkward if the child wants to be fed during a dignified function. I really don’t want to face such a situation,” said a 28-year-old lecturer. “I consulted the doctor for medication to stop breastfeeding. But the doctor did not give any and I have stopped breastfeeding when my child turned 1.2 years,” she added.
It is not only fear of awkward situations that come in the way of breastfeeding. Many working women do not want to continue it for long due to pressures of work. Others stop it early so that they can conceive within a year of the first delivery.
“Having a kid was a great desire. I set apart nearly two years for it. Now, I want to achieve something in life and so I have decided to stop breastfeeding and go back to my profession,” said Arathy Menon, an air hostess who had approached a private paediatric clinic here for help to stop breastfeeding in a year.
City paediatricians say they counsel mothers about the importance of breastfeeding. “Breast milk contains all nutrients necessary for the healthy growth of babies as well as immunoglobulins, which help build the baby’s immune system. It is the most important food during the first year. Breastfeeding, even for a short time, is beneficial,” said Dr P Siva Bharathi, paediatrician at Kovai Kids Clinic.
“Not only babies, but also mothers benefit from breastfeeding. The more a mother breastfeeds, the less her chances of breast cancer. And for the baby, it minimises risks of all ailments,” the doctor added. There are many mothers who approach doctors for medication to stop breastfeeding within a year and paediatricians generally advise them against it. “We tell mothers that breastfeeding is a privilege. There is nothing to be ashamed of if a baby asks for milk in front of others,” added Siva Bharathi.