Like the author of this article, I thought that breast-feeding would be a no-brainer in third-world countries. Heck, money is one of the main reasons why I agreed to breast-feed here in the US. So, I was surprised when I read that 1.4 million babies are dying annually because of poor education in regards to breast-feeding.
In some countries, women are waiting for breast-milk to mature before giving it to their babies, denying them the health benefits of the colostrum. In their defense, the colostrum does look nasty and it doesn't look like it would do the baby any good, but it's actually very important for the baby's health. They even said in my breast-feeding class that if your baby gets nothing else, try to make sure your baby gets the colostrum. Some breast-feeding is better than no breast-feeding at all.
One of the things that struck me the most though was the practice of giving the baby a mixture made from water and ink from a Koran verse for protection. Well, my Bible says too, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3) Apparently, however, the Koran specifically states that you are supposed to breast-feed for the
first two years.
I can understand the importance of tradition. I'm sure some of these women in the third-world would find it odd that I had a priest pour water over my infant's head. I have to applaud UNICEF for aggressively trying to solve this problem. As the article said:
There are babies suffering and dying because they don’t get enough to eat, yet the best nutrition for them is inches away at all times.Really sobering when you think about it.