Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development

With the end of the millennium development goals in 2015, world leaders committed themselves to
 ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity by composing some 17 goals that will sustain development for the next 15 years – the sustainable development goals. Sustainable development, which is an economic development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs, means different things to different people. As a result, different countries focus on different areas to attain sustainability. However, a major key that is essential to achieving sustainable development and which cuts across tribes and tongues, nations and continents is breastfeeding.

Though described as the most specific personalised medicine and best food to feed babies, breast milk serves as one of the few ‘life saving medicines’ vital for underweight, premature and fragile babies. Breastfeeding has been observed as a key element in helping us understand how to value and respect the wellbeing of humans from the start of life and how to care for the World we are part of.
The benefits of breastfeeding to the mother and child takes care of life on land and helps promote good health by lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and cardiovascular disease. It also improves uterus shrinkage and reduces the risk of postpartum depression. For the child, breast milk reduces the risk of infections, obesity, type 2 diabetes and sudden infant disease syndrome (SIDS). Breastfeeding meets the second goal of sustainable development by reducing hunger in children.
Breastfeeding though important, may be tough for some women but it is good to note that ‘practice is key’. No one knows how well or easy it turns out to be until one starts. However, with a good start of cuddling the baby immediately after birth, the baby’s senses are heightened. They get to know how to latch by themselves – granting a form of relief.
To breastfeed effectively, it is important to know which position is best suitable so as to prevent a back pain. Eating balanced meals and drinking adequate amounts of fluids especially water helps the breastfeeding mother to produce breast milk of good quality and quantity. It also helps her body to heal completely. It is necessary for breastfeeding mothers not to eat high mercury fish or drink alcohol or caffeine as these can get to the baby through the breast milk. They can affect the baby’s general development and could disturb sleep patterns, or make the baby fussy. Sage and peppermint have been found to inhibit the production of breast milk so should also be avoided.
In order to attain sustainable development, everyone has a role to play. Playing this role helps us achieve the set goals faster and with much ease. Are you a mother or mother-to-be? Go on and breastfeed. It is a sure key to sustainable development. 

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi


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