Social care and upbringing begins at birth

If you're one of the mothers who has ever breastfed their babies, you know that nothing compares to your baby's eye contact and touch during this extraordinary experience.

The unique relationship that breastfeeding fosters between you - a special divine language between a mother and her baby, creating harmony and a physical, mental and spiritual connection between you and your baby.

The foundations of a healthy happy family are formed with the beginning of this sacred bond between a mother and her children.

And then the child's sense of safety increases, and thus we ensure safe societies.

Herein lies the great importance of encouraging the work carried out by the various associations concerned with maternal and child rights, such as the Sharjah Breastfeeding Friends Association, which is making tremendous efforts to contribute to educating and supporting women during this precious period for every mother. These efforts are fully consistent with the message and objectives of the National Breastfeeding Week in the United Arab Emirates, which comes as an extension of the call launched by the World Health Organization this year to consider breastfeeding as a shared responsibility at all levels.

We all agree that breastfeeding is essential to children's health and well-being at the beginning of their lives and throughout their developmental journey. It is equally beneficial for mothers, as several studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer. This is another strong evidence that proves the importance of working to educate and promote breastfeeding because of its benefits, and we must do our best to support mothers during this important stage.

Breastfeeding has established its unique position over many centuries of time, until various alternatives have recently emerged that posed a threat to that position, especially after the invention of formula milk for children and the accompanying studies supported by many beneficiary parties to maximize their benefits, in addition to advertising campaigns targeting Mothers in particular through smart messages trying to link the use of formula milk to the empowerment and liberation of women, which represents a real threat to the health of future generations.

Now, more than ever, we understand the need to build a healthy immune system, and we know the vital role of breast milk in promoting health.

Today, we are experiencing unprecedented repercussions of a pandemic that does not show - until today - any indications that its end is imminent.

This means that we need to do everything we can to strengthen our bodies.

And with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) confirming that it is unlikely that the Corona virus will be transmitted to children, even if the mother is infected. Is this not a miracle in itself?! Thus, you do not need to worry about your baby contracting the Corona virus if you take some simple precautions such as washing hands and wearing a mask while breastfeeding, and this is proof that the desired benefits greatly outweigh the possible minor risks. A UNICEF spokesperson recently indicated that breast milk is the first vaccine a child receives, as it “contains all essential nutrients, antibodies, hormones, and antioxidants that help boost the immune system and provide protection against many types of infections.”

But despite its many benefits for the infant and the mother, some women still face many obstacles to their dependence on breastfeeding, especially when mothers find that they struggle to find the right time and place to perform this innate duty. Accordingly, I advocate the need to allocate comfortable and healthy spaces for mothers of infants in workplaces, shopping malls, etc., and consider this a top priority. There is no justification for mothers suffering in the exhausting search for a place to breastfeed their children or pumping milk from the breast in a place where they feel safe and private.

In Sharjah, we strive to make the emirate child and family friendly, and we have set this goal at the top of our priorities in the field of human and human development, which is one of the pillars of our comprehensive development strategy. We have been working since 2012 to provide all facilities that women need to breastfeed their babies in health care centers and public places such as workplaces, museums, restaurants, and parks. This initiative has been accompanied by the campaign of the World Health Organization in this regard, and it is committed to supporting women before and after childbirth. Sharjah has also given priority to training health care workers, and has banned advertising of milk substitutes in health care centers. These efforts culminated in UNICEF officially declaring Sharjah a Baby Friendly City in 2019. Taking pride in this global recognition, we are very pleased to announce that the number of women breastfeeding their babies has tripled in six months in five years.This is the real effect!

I am proud of the work we are doing in Sharjah to support breastfeeding.

I hope that we will set an example in this field locally and globally.

We believe that “raising a child requires the combined efforts of an entire village,” as the African proverb says, and therefore we cannot expect mothers to take full responsibility for our nation's healthy future.

We must all support women in the early years of their child-rearing journey because it is in the interest of society as a whole.

While having children is a blessing that fills every woman with contentment and happiness, it is also a very difficult period for them, and it requires everyone, including governments and the private sector, to work to ensure that breastfeeding is an easy and enjoyable experience for mothers.

Honorary President of the Friends of Breastfeeding

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