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BREASTFEEDING


The coming of a first new baby is a time of excitement and every Muslim mother-to-be eagerly awaits the arrival of this special gift. It is easy to find the latest advice and useful practical tips and information about what to expect of the early weeks of motherhood on a day to day basis from different books, but because they are bereft of the guidance of Islam, they contain little advice for Muslim Women when it comes coping spiritually with the coming of a baby. Every baby is different and some first time mothers find things quite easy and smooth. But nearly all will have moments when they struggle to reorganize their lives and many have a very trying time if their baby suffers from colic or has trouble settling down or if the birth was complicated and long. There are many things Muslim women can do to make this time as smooth as possible and increase their Eemaan.

 

With your baby’s arrival, the first part of his Rizq or provision arrived too and that is breast milk! Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) ordained breastfeeding for humans and many animals. Allah’s Messengers too were breast-fed. Allah inspired Musa’s mother to put her baby Musa in a basket in the river to save him from Pharaoh’s killing decree, Pharaoh’s family found him and wanted to keep him and looked everywhere for a wet-nurse to breastfeed him and Allah caused Musa to refuse to be breast-fed by any woman except his own mother.

 

Table of Contents

 

Quran

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. Quran Surah Luqman 31:14

 

Hadith

The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in his childhood, suckled from his mother Aminah, Thuwaybah – a slave girl of his uncle Abu Lahab, Umm Ayman and Halimah as-Sa’diyyah.  Sahih al-Bukhari 5101 and Sahih Muslim 162

 

The Prophet’s (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) children too were breastfed. His son Ibrahim had a wet-nurse as occurs in a hadeeth and when his son passed away he was only 1 year and 10 months old so there were two months of suckling left for him so the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam ) said as narrated by Al-Bara (bin Azib): The Prophet, after the death of his son Ibrahim, said, "There is a wet-nurse for him (i.e. Ibrahim) in Paradise." Sahih al-Bukhari 3255 (Volume 4:477)

 

Superior role of women

It is only in modern times that the wide use of artificial forms of baby-feeding, cow’s and goat’s milk formulas, have been used and that women have left their homes in pursuit of careers which make them leave the superior role that Allah has given them and pulled them away from the home to serve others and leave their own families.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) tells us the recommended time of suckling a child in the Qur’an:“And the mothers are to suckle their infants for two years, for those who wish to complete the suckling” Quran Surah Baqarah 2:233

“We have enjoined upon the human being to treat his parents kindly. His mother bore him with weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years.”Quran Surah Luqman 31:14 [1]

 

Best way to feed

The best way to feed your child is: 0 - 6 months: breastmilk only

6 months - 2 years and beyond: 
           - continue to feed breastmilk 
           - gradually add other nutritious foods. [a]

 

UNICEF ON health benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfed babies may have better:

  • neurological development.
  • multiple sclerosis 
  • acute appendicitis
  • tonsillectomy
  • for the mother 
  • rheumatoid arthritis.

 

And for the mother, protection against:

  • rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Women who have breastfed are at lower risk of:

  • breast cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • hip fractures and bone density.

 

Artificially fed babies are at greater risk of: 

  • gastro-intestinal infection
  • respiratory infections
  • necrotising enterocolitis
  • urinary tract infections
  • ear infections
  • allergic disease (eczema and wheezing)
  •  insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • childhood leukaemia [2]

 

Human milk is the best

Human milk, the best food for babies, contains the right amount of nutrients, in the right proportions, for the growing baby. A living, biological fluid; it contains many unique components. For example, lactoferrin (a glycoprotein that belongs to the iron transporter or transferrin family) provides optimal absorption of iron and protects the gut from harmful bacteria; lipases assist in digestion of fats; and special growth factors and hormones contribute to optimal growth and development. The mother's own milk changes during a feeding from thirst-quenching to hunger-satisfying, and comes in a variety of flavors as the mother's diet varies. Its composition changes as the baby grows to meet the baby's changing nutritional needs.

 

Breastfeeding and the immune system

Human milk is the baby's first immunization. It provides antibodies which protect the baby from many common respiratory and intestinal diseases, and also contains living immune cells. First milk, colostrum, is packed with components which increase immunity and protect the newborn's intestines. Breastfeeding as an infant also provides protection from developing immune system cancers such as lymphoma, bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and celiac sprue, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, all of which are related to immune system function. Additionally, breastfed babies generally mount a more effective response to childhood immunizations. In all these cases, benefits begin immediately, and increase with increasing duration of breastfeeding.

Babies from families with a tendency to allergic diseases particularly benefit from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides protection against allergies, asthma, and eczema.

 

Breastfeeding and the environment

Another important issue related to infant feeding and health is the interaction between infant feeding method and the environment. Breastfeeding is a completely natural, efficient use of resources. In contrast, artificial feeding involves overgrazing of land by cattle; use of chemical fertilizers to grow the soy; use of valuable environmental resources for formula production; packaging and transportation of the product; use of water and fuel for mixing the product and heating it, for sterilizing bottles and nipples; waste disposal of the cans, bottles, accessories, cartons, etc.

Despite this, the media and some environmental groups tend to play up issues of environmental contaminants in mother's milk. In fact, except in situations of toxic spills or occupational exposure to hazardous levels, breastfeeding has caused no ill effects in babies. To the contrary, studies comparing breastfed and bottle-fed babies in the same environment have shown better development and less cancer in the breastfed babies.

 

Conclusions from modern medicine

Breastfed babies

  • Get sick less often and get less severe illnesses
  • Are hospitalized less often and have a lower rate of mortality
  • Have a lower risk of diarrheal disease
  • Have a lower incidence of gastrointestinal illness
  • Have a lower risk of urinary tract infections
  • Have a lower incidence of respiratory disease
  • Have a lower incidence of otitis media ear infections
  • Have a lower incidence of allergies
  • Have a lower rate of pneumonia
  • Have lower rates of obesity
  • Have a lower incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Have fewer learning and behavior difficulties

 

Breastfeeding

  • Helps bond mother and child
  • Confers passive immunity
  • Is protective against measles and other communicable diseases
  • Provides optimal growth and neurological development
  • Prevents malocclusion and leads to better teeth and jaw development
  • Protects against hypothermia
  • Provides partial protection against necrotising entercolitis
  • Provides major protection against bacteremia and meningitis
  • Reduces the incidence of childhood lymphoma
  • Enhances visual development
  • Provides protection against neonatal sepsis
  • Is less risky for premature babies and low birth rate babies

 

Artificially fed babies

  • Have an increased risk factor for juvenile diabetes
  • May have impaired antibody response to vaccines
  • Have a higher risk of inflammatory illness
  • Have a higher risk of celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cholera, and neonatal hypocalcemic tetany
  • Have higher rates of middle ear infections, pneumonia, and cases of gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

 

Benefits for the mother from breastfeeding

  • Obedient to our creator, as it is mentioned in the Qur’an a number of times
  • Bonds mother and child
  • Provides the mother hormonal induced contentment
  • It is clean and sterilized, the right temperature, it’s fresh, it’s easily digested, contains antibodies and anti-allergens.
  • Breast fed babies have better immune systems, and less infections.
  • Encourages efficient uterine contractions after childbirth
  • Allows mothers to lose pregnancy weight and size faster
  • Is convenient since the milk is pre-warmed, clean and always available
  • Is cost effective and saves money
  • Contributes to natural family planning
  • Contributes to household food security
  • Fosters confidence and promotes self-esteem
  • Reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections
  • Is protective against cancer (breast, ovarian, cervical)
  • Lowers the incidence of chronic hepatitis
  • Reduces the incidence of osteoporosis
  • Reduces the requirements of insulin for lactating diabetic mothers  [3] [4]

 

Scholars view

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr said:

The Qur’aan encourages the mother to breastfeed her child naturally. Allaah says: “The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling” Quran Surah Baqarah 2:233

This is a command to mothers, as the scholars explained, to breastfeed their children. The scholars also mentioned that one part of breastfeeding is obligatory, which is the yellow substance (colostrum) that is produced at the beginning of breastfeeding and which is known medically to be of great benefit in building the immune system of the child etc. Undoubtedly in carrying out the commands of Allaah there is great blessing. [5]

 

See also

 

References

[1] [4] http://www.missionislam.com/family/advicenew.htm

[a] http://www.answering-christianity.com/breast_feeding.htm

[2] http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/About-Baby-Friendly/Breastfeeding-in-the-UK/Health-benefits/

[3] http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?id=139277&page=articles

[5] http://islamqa.info/en/13750

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