MILK OF LIFE [Archives:2000/32/Health]

August 7 2000

Khalid Abdalla Bin Wabar
Aden University
Faculty of Education
Every year between August 1-7, the World Breast Feeding is celebrated under different themes, and an opportunity to create awareness about its importance. Few mothers are of course aware that the first feed a baby takes from the mother immediately after birth, is perhaps the most important meal the baby will have.
During the captioned week, programs on awareness of this significant matter will be held for women from different strata of society and also for doctors.
As breast feeding is part and parcel of the Yemeni customs and culture, it is done within the first hour of the baby’s birth. The advantage of this, is that the baby gets more colostrum – the thick yellowish milk which contains large quantities of protective substances, rich protein and vitamins A + K, which enhance development of baby’s gastrointestinal tract. This is in fact the first immunization of babies, because it has all the essential antibodies that are transferred from mothers to children.
It is worth mentioning that in Wadi Hadhramout in particular and from time immemorial a 4-6 months old child is fed from home-made food, known locally as MAREES which is juggery-like juice extracted from date juices. Artificial food is avoided and totally discouraged.
World-wide estimates indicate that annual infant mortality is mainly due to non-breast feeding from birth onwards. It is therefore recommended to promote widely breast feeding in our society to the above-quoted benefits.