The Number of Breastfeeding Mothers Decreased by Ten Percent

  February 28, 2024 By: Shreya Parajuli

The number of breastfeeding mothers in Nepal has decreased by ten percent in the last five years. Additionally, data from the HMIS shows that the percentage of mothers breastfeeding for 6 months from birth in Lumbini Province is 61%. Arghakhanchi has the highest number of breastfeeding mothers in Lumbini Province. Similarly, the data mentions that there are 93% in Gulmi, 77% in Pyuthan, 74% in Nawalparasi West, 73% in Rolpa, 59% in Bardiya, 63% in Rupandehi, 57% in Banke, 54% in Kapilvastu, 52% in Dang, and 48% in Rukum East.

According to the data of the Nepal Demographic Health Survey 2022, only 56% of mothers in Nepal are breastfeeding fully. Previous survey showed that 66% of mothers were breastfeeding. This  study shows that there is a decrease in the number of breastfeeding women every year. Likewise, If we analyze the data of the previous years, it is 75 % in 1996, 68 % in 2001, 53 % in 2006, 70 % in 2011, and 66 % in 2016.

Mothers should breastfeed their babies 10 to 12 times in 24 hours according to the baby’s needs. Since mother’s milk contains all the necessary nutrients, it is recommended to breastfeed the baby for at least 6 months after birth.

Mothers do not need to feed water separately, as breast milk already contains enough water for the baby. After the completion of 6 months, it is recommended to feed additional foods alongside breastfeeding for at least two years. Pregnant mothers are recommended to consume twice as much nutritious food to ensure a continuous healthy production  of milk for the babies.

The growth and development of about 40 % of three to four-year-old children in Nepal is not as much as it should be. Various researches have confirmed that the educational status of the mother and breastfeeding play a major role in the development of the child’s intelligence.

According to a 2016 study, 55% of babies start consuming breast milk within an hour of birth. Similarly, only 66% of children have been breastfed until the age of 6 months. This percentage was higher at 70% in 2011.

Dr. Shakuntala Gupta, a Gynecologist at Lumbini Provincial Hospital,Butwal, emphasizes that many mothers mistakenly believe that feeding less milk can prevent the body from deteriorating. This is a misconception. Generally, body fat starts to increase after pregnancy and breastfeeding is an effective way to reduce this fat.

Breastfeeding helps in reducing obesity as it melts body fat and is turned into milk. Research has also proven that mothers who do not breastfeed have more obesity problems than mothers who do not. She added that breastfeeding also protects mothers from breast cancer and cervical cancer. Therefore, breastfeeding is very beneficial for both the mother and the child. Kaushal Bhandari, Focal Person at Lumbini Health Directorate, mentioned that several awareness programs have been implemented for the breastfeeding mothers for the first 6 months after childbirth in Lumbini Province.

Rima BC