While doing some research online, I found this intriguing book review by Hannah Katsman from GreenProphet.com. The book entitled “A Fading Art: Understanding Breastfeeding in the Middle East,” writen by Dr. Modia Batterjee, attributes the high infant mortality rate amongst Muslim countries to the lack of breastfeeding.
She blames formula companies for heavily marketing their products to mothers and healthcare professionals in these countries. Consequently, bottlefeeding with formula is highly practiced in predominantly Muslim countries such as Pakistan where “the number of feeding bottles sold annually, if placed end to end, would reach Mt. Everest.” The book focuses a lot on Dr. Batterjee’s study of Saudi women who often do not breastfeed for the following reasons:
- Working outside the home
- Due to lack of breastfeeding women in extended family, women have not observed any relative breastfeeding women
- Traditional, extended family structure is less prominent
- Healthcare workers do not know much about breastfeeding
- Formula companies heavily promote bottlefeeding
- Older generation of women, who did not breastfeed, have influence on younger women
There are also cultural beliefs and practices that prevent women from successfully breastfeeding in the Arab World, which include:
- Women are separated from baby after birth and baby kept in nursery throughout the hospital stay.
- Babies are often served formula and/or tea to help soothe their tummy or help them sleep.
- After being supplemented with formula in a bottle, many babies prefer the bottle and will refuse the breast.
- Many women doubt they have a sufficient milk supply and/or do not know the signs of a satiated baby.
- Babies are often not correctly latched-on
- Women are often given pain medications during birth which effects the mother and baby as they initiate breastfeeding
Since I aspire to be a health educator for Muslimahs these articles were very beneficial for me and insh’Allah I can get my hands on a copy of this book. As brothers and sisters in Islam, this information can help us to understand the factors that prevent our mothers from breastfeeding. Insh’Allah, more children can benefit from the Barakah of Breastfeeding and live longer lives. May Allah (swt) make it easy for us all. Links to the book review are below.