Exclusive Breastfeeding Campaign in Ghana

Once again, it appears that infant formula companies are inappropriately advertising their products to families.  Read the the following linked article get more info about how breastfeeding advocates in Ghana are making a comeback by launching a campaign to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed.

GHS calls on media to intensify education on exclusive breastfeeding.

My Rant on the Stigma of Attachment Parenting

Naturally, many of us practice attachment parenting without even knowing what it is.  According to about.com ,”The goal of attachment parenting is to raise children who can form healthy, emotional connections with other people throughout their life. Attachment parents believe this must begin by forming a respectful, compassionate connection between parent and child.” Sounds good, right?  Well unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with the common practices of parents such as  breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping and even simply holding your child.  For some reason, responding to your babies hunger cues and keeping him close to your heart in a sling is seen as disgraceful.  When I came across the image to the right, I laughed because it is so true.  Even if you only practice one aspect of attachment parenting, like breastfeeding, you experience negative feedback from other people.  In reality, there is nothing wrong with bonding with your child and these “shameful” practices are more beneficial than harmful.  One of the most important needs of a young child is to have a trusting relationship with a caregiver and breastfeeding, baby-wearing, etc. help to facilitate that bond.  When I was in the postpartum unit, many nurses were impressed with how calm my newborn was, not crying during procedures or throughout the night like other babies.  This was due to the fact that I was unknowingly practicing “attachment parenting” right in the hospital room (co-sleeping and all, don’t tell the authorities).  As mothers, we must be confident in the way we raise our children because someone will always have something to say.  The same people who complain, are the ones who will admire how peaceful, well-mannered and intelligent your child is! 

Breastfeeding in Your Birth Plan

It is important that mothers initiate breastfeeding shortly after birth.  To ensure your needs are met and to create the optimal environment for natural feeding,  include the following things in your birth plan (it is not necessary that you include them all):

  • I would like the baby to be placed skin-to-skin immediately after birth (umbilical cord does not have to be cut yet).  That is, before the baby is washed or has drops placed in his eyes.  If the baby needs extra warmth, a blanket can be placed over him.
  • I would like all newborn procedures delayed until after the first feeding, and done with the baby lying on me or being held by me.
  • Allow my baby to explore my breast at his own pace.  I would like to give the baby an opportunity to self-latch.
  • I would not like my baby’s mouth to be suctioned unless medically necessary.
  • Please do not give my baby artificial nipples such as teats, dummies, or pacifiers.
  • Unless medically necessary, I do not want my baby to receive supplemental feeding such as glucose water or formula.  If supplementation is needed, I would like to discuss my concerns with a pediatrician and lactation consultant.
  • In the event of a c-section, I would like to hold the baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible after surgery.  If I am unable to for some time, I would like my husband/relative to hold the baby skin-to-skin.
  • I want my baby to stay in my room with me, so that I can hold my baby skin-to-skin as much as possible.  To ensure your modesty is protected, have your nurse put a sign on the door indicating that you do not want male caregivers and/or that you everyone must knock, state who they are, and wait for a response.
  • I would like help in establishing a comfortable and effective latch, and learn different positions for nursing my baby.  I would also like assistance in learning hand expression, how to recognize swallowing, and what to expect in the days following discharge.
  • If I encounter any breastfeeding problems, I would like help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
  • If I am separated from my baby for medical reasons, I want to use a breastpump to help establish my milk supply.
  • Do not give me any formula promotional material including the free formula diaper bags, coupons and crib cards.
  • Please provide me with resources for breastfeeding support in my community such as lactation consultants, clinics, groups and/or organizations.

Free Birth Plan Creator

Is Your Vitamin Halal?

Noor Vitamins are certified Halal and affordable.

If a mother eats a reasonably, well-balanced diet, taking vitamins are not necessary.  To find out why, checkout this article by Kellymom.  SubhanAllah, Allah (swt) has made our bodies very efficient at producing milk for our babies.

However, with the demands and stress of postpartum life, many women fall short of eating a truly, nutritious diet.  Therefore, many women continue take a multi-vitamin to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need.

“O you who have believed, eat from the pure things which we have provided you” (Quran 2:172).  Did you know that most brands use haram ingredients to make their vitamins?  Many people do not think it is important to check the pureness of vitamins, but as narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA), the Prophet of Allah (saws) said, “a time will come upon the people wherein a man will not bother what he intakes; whether from Halal source or Haram” (Bukhari).  Gelatin derived from pig fat or bones, is often used in vitamins as a softening agent.  Alcohol may also be used to make certain ingredients in vitamins.  Also, fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K often come from non-halal sources.

S’ad RA relates: Allah’s messenger (saws) said “O S’ad purify your food (and as a result) you will become one whose supplications are accepted. I swear by He in whose hands the soul of Muhammad (saws) lies, verily a servant (of Allah) tosses a Haram morsel in his stomach (due to which) no deed is accepted from him for 40 days” (Tabarani)

We all want our deeds to be accepted by Allah (swt).  Therefore, it is important that you check your vitamins with a resource such as Muslim Consumer Group or contact the company to verify if the vitamins are safe to consume.

To make it easy for you, I have compiled a short list of halal vitamins.

Noor Vitamins (Certified Halal by Islamic Services of America)

Halvit (IFANCA certified)

Nutrition Enhancement

Landau Multivitamins, Minerals, and Prenatal Vitamin

Maxi Health Multivitamins, Minerals, and Prenatal Vitamin

Solgar Multivitamins and Minerals, Calcium Citrate & Vitamin D

Zahlers Multivitamins and Minerals

If you know of anymore halal vitamin products, please contact me.

Islam Protects and Promotes Breastfeeding

Islam protects the breastfeeding relationship by providing rights and provisions that ensure the mother and child attain optimal benefits.  Here is a small list of examples that make breastfeeding easier and more achievable:

  • Breastfeeding is the right of the mother.  If she is willing no one can keep her from doing it.
  • Breastmilk is the birthright of a child.
  • As a part of marriage, husbands provide emotional, moral, physical and financial support.
  • After birth, women are given a generous 40/60 day (depending on madhab) maximum resting period while she is still bleeding (nifas). During this time she is not obligated to fast or pray (Sunnipath).
  • Sexual intercourse with one’s husband is not allowed while a woman is bleeding (nifas) after childbirth.
  • With a valid excuse, breastfeeding women can delay their fasts and make them up at a later time.
  • Children must honor their parents as mentioned in the translation of Surah Luqman verse 14, “And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents; unto Me is the final destination”

The following are derived from Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 233:

  • The recommended full term of breastfeeding is 2 years.  This is the perfect amount of time because there are many benefits (please refer to this post).
  • Breastfeeding does not have to be a hardship. No one can force a woman to breastfeed.
  • Weaning early is permissible if a mother and father wish to do so.
  • If the parents choose to, they can hire a wet-nurse to feed the baby.
  • If the father/husband is not available e.g. he dies, his heir is responsible for facilitating his responsibilities for feeding the child.
  • Women have no obligation to work outside the home to provide food, clothing, or maintenance of the household. In general, and within reasonable means, this is the responsibility of the husband.
  • It is the father’s responsibility to find and pay for a milk-source if the mother does not breastfeed.
  • If a woman is divorced and still breastfeeding she has to be maintained (or compensated) by the ex-husband.

Sister Sue’s Breastfeeding Story

I’ve always wanted a little girl. Being the only daughter in the family, I’ve endlessly wished to have a little sister when I was younger. So when I became pregnant, 8 months after giving birth to my son, in my heart, I knew that it was going to be a girl this time round. I was extremely happy and hopeful. Throughout my pregnancy, everything was going on well. I turned down the scheduled Downs Syndrome test as my husband and I felt that it was pointless since the test result would not change anything. We also had a name ready for herWareesha Ayra, which means ‘Happiness’ and ‘Respectable’.

However, one month before Wareesha’s due date, on National Day, I went into labour and delivered her via c-section. She was in transverse breech position which made natural delivery impossible. I was delighted when she was born but I can also never forget for the rest of my life how the feeling of elation turned into a crushing wave of uncertainty and disappointment when I was told that my baby has Trisomy 21.  It was like a nightmare and I cried alot. She had jaundice, two holes in her heart, low-oxygenated blood, low muscle tone, gastrointestinal problems, just to name a few. I cried over every little thing for 3 whole days. I was in denial and didn’t want to look at her much in those three days unless I had to nurse her.

By the fourth day, I somehow snapped out of it. Everyone had been supportive. My husband read up as much as possible about Downs Syndrome and was positive. My obgyn was constantly advising me to focus on healing. My mother in law kept telling me that we’ve been given a gift and told me to be persistent in breastfeeding her. And from my readings when I first got pregnant, I already knew about the wonders of breast milk. I knew that breast milk has a unique combination of nutrients essential to a child’s health, and cannot be duplicated by any laboratory formula. It provides a number of health advantages from the moment the baby is born and continues throughout a child’s life. The longer the mother breastfeeds, the more likely her child will get the health benefits of breastfeeding. And reminding myself all these made me believe that maybe I could help Wareesha get better.  I cannot change what she has, but I could give her a good start in life. Wareesha was not allowed to leave the hospital because she had low oxygen saturation level, so she had to be on respiratory support. Each day, I pushed aside the pain I was feeling and walked to the nursery every time she woke up for her feed. She couldn’t suckle well initially because of her low muscle tone, but I persevered even when my breasts were very engorged and painful. I instructed the nurses to never give her formula milk and to wake me up to nurse her if I was asleep. I talked and cooed at her each time I held her, and prayed that she would get better.  After 10 days, she did get better and could occasionally be off the supplemented oxygen.  After 2 weeks, we could finally bring her home.

Today, Wareesha is a 10 month old happy and healthy baby. She is still fully breastfed and hopefully till she is at least 2 years old. Wareesha currently attends an early intervention program at Rainbow Centre and is making very good progress in her development. She has not once fallen ill since she was born and I attribute her good health and development to breastmilk and positive thinking. There is nothing about her that we would want to change.  She has been a joy in our family and we are so thankful to be blessed with this special child.