A newborn has only three demands .They are warmth in the arms of its mother ,food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence .Breastfeeding satisfies all the three.Breastfeeding is feeding of infants or young children with breast milk from female breasts (i.e. through lactation). The sucking reflex enables babies to suck and swallow milk instinctively. Globally, inadequate nutrition is an underlying cause of the deaths of more than 2.6 million children and over 100,000 mothers every year. Many health groups, such as World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF support 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and continued partial breastfeeding for extended periods. Breast milk offers benefits for both mother and baby.
Allah SWT has placed food and water for the child in the body of the mother, and has created an amazing system of feeding the newborn child in a manner which is perfect and most beneficial. In Islam, both parents and children have rights and responsibilities. Breast feeding from his or her mother is considered a child’s entitled right, and it is highly recommended to do so if the mother is able.
Breast feeding is very clearly encouraged in the Quran;
“Mothers shall breastfeed their children for two whole years, for those who wish to complete the term”( 2:233). Also in reminding people to treat their parents with kindness, the Quran says: “His mother carried him, in weakness upon weakness, and his period of weaning is two years”(31:14).In a similar verse, Allah SWT says: “His mother carried him with hardship, and gave birth to him in hardship. And the carrying of the child to his weaning is a period of thirty months”(46:15).
It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “For a child there is no milk better than the milk of the mother”. The Prophet (PBUH) has also said that there is nothing that can take the place of food and water except milk.Likewise,it is narrated from Imam Ali (AS) that for a child ,there is no milk that has more blessings than the milk of a mother.
Allah SWT said “The mothers should suckle their children for two whole years ,(that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mothers food and clothing on a reasonable basis”(Surah Al Baqarah 2:233).
Breastfeeding is not only feeding your child ,but is the exchange of love and strengthening of the soul .When the child is feeding, he/she can hear hear the sound of mothers heart and this leads to relaxation and calmness. Breast feed children tend to be healthier and sounder in terms of bodily and spiritual health and Psychologists believe that breastfeeding keeps children happy and content and even has an effect on their Akhlaq.Being breast feed is one of the rights of a child and is also counted as the right of a mother, and has been strongly recommended in the Noble Quran and traditions.Indded, its benefits are widely accepted in the world today .Of course ,it should be kept in mind that breastfeeding is only recommended if it does not pose any risk to mother or child.
- Breast milk contains all the necessary ingredients that the child needs in the first 4-6 months of life. Breast milk contains the suitable proteins and fats to satisfy the natural needs of the child. There are higher quantities of lactose in breast milk than other types of milk, as this is what is needed by the child.
- There are enough vitamins in the breast milk ,ensuring that no extra vitamins or fruits juices are needed
- The iron in breast milk is enough for the child .Even though the levels are not very high, the child’s ability to absorb the necessary amount is very good
- Breast milk contains the enzyme lipase that digests fats.Breastmilk is the most important protector against two main causes of death ;diarrhetic illnesses and respiratory infections.
- The sucking of the child soon after birth causes the stimulation of oxytocin which results in the contraction of the womb, and thus less bleeding from mother. Mothers that breastfeed are less likely to get breast or ovary cancer.
Although this is what modern medicine have discovered recently, it does not mean that there are no other benefits or wisdom behind suckling ; only Allah knows this with his magnificent and infinite knowledge. Only through following the orders of Allah can we achieve ultimate happiness, success, satisfaction, and be protected from all harm and evil. The natural power of breast feeding is one of the greatest wonders of the world. It is about real love, it is about caring and celebrating the wondrous joy of nurturing a new life ,It is about enjoying being a women.
The author can be reached at [email protected]