Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah (2:233) – Advantages of Breastfeeding and the Divine Recommendation


 

وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلاَدَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ وَعلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ لاَ تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا لاَ تُضَآرَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلاَ مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُ بِوَلَدِهِ وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَلِكَ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالاً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمْ أَن تَسْتَرْضِعُواْ أَوْلاَدَكُمْ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُم مَّآ آتَيْتُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

And the mothers should suckle their children for two whole years for him who desires to make complete the time of suckling; and their maintenance and their clothing must be-- borne by the father according to usage; no soul shall have imposed upon it a duty but to the extent of its capacity; neither shall a mother be made to suffer harm on account of her child, nor a father on account of his child, and a similar duty (devolves) on the (father's) heir, but if both desire weaning by mutual consent and counsel, there is no blame on them, and if you wish to engage a wet-nurse for your children, there is no blame on you so long as you pay what you promised for according to usage; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah and know that Allah sees what you do.

M.H.Shakir's Quran Translation


 


 

This is a Quranic command for the mothers to suckle (breastfeed) their children for a period of two years. The wisdom of breastfeeding the children has been instilled in the Muslims through this Qur'anic revelation. Those who followed this Qur'anic command raised mentally and physically healthy Muslim children. Breast-feeding has many advantages.

1-Advantages for the baby

2-Advantages for the mother


 

1-The advantages of breastfeeding for the baby:

(a)   Nutritional Advantages

It has a high concentration of lactose (milk sugar). This is an excellent source of carbohydrates.

The proteins (largely whey proteins) are much more easily digested than the proteins in formula based on cow's milk.

Infants fed human milk tend to have stools that are less foul smelling and softer than those of infants who are fed cow's milk or soymilk based formula. This is due to the different bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of infants who are solely breast fed. Constipation, defined as hard stools (not the absence of a daily stool), does not occur in healthy breast fed infants.

The composition of the milk of mothers who are breastfeeding varies during the time of the day and during the feeding. The hind milk (latter part of a breastfeeding) has a much higher fat content than milk produced during the beginning portion of the feeding.

The odor and/or taste of breast milk may change depending on the mother's diet. This may help infants get used to different tastes.

(b)   Bonding and Psychosocial effects:

Bonding is the emotional tie from parent to infant. It begins during pregnancy and increases with birth. This attachment enables parents to make sacrifices for their infant.

Many women maintain that their breastfeeding experience was a very special time during their life and they valued this closeness to their infant.

If a woman is unable to breastfeed her infant she needs to be reassured that she will still be able to bond with her infant.

2- The advantages of breastfeeding for the mother:

(a)  Economics:

In all countries of the world it is cheaper to breast feed a baby than to feed the baby formula. In the United States, one day's supply of a cow's milk based formula costs approximately $2.50. Women who are breastfeeding need about 500 extra kilocalories per day in their diet. This can be supplied by a peanut butter sandwich and 8 oz. of milk. In the developing world, actual formula costs are comparable to those in the United States, but the family's income may be only the equivalent of $200 US per month. Formula for one infant could thus require around 40% of the family income.

In a study from Scotland and the United States, infants who were exclusively breastfed for the first three months of life are estimated to save $330 to $475 in health care costs during the first year of life

(b)  Uterine involution:

Breastfeeding causes the release of prolactin and oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes uterine contractions. The release of oxytocin while breastfeeding speeds uterine involution. This may also cause cramps while breastfeeding in the postpartum period.

 (c)  Bonding and psychosocial effects:

Please refer to the Bonding and Psychosocial Effects section in the Advantages of Breastfeeding for the Baby for an introduction to this topic. 

Let us see what the western scientists and various researches in the west say regarding breast feeding. These researches make the benefits ample clear. Many Christian missionaries and atheist try to convince the people that the Muslim's claim that the Quran has many scientific miracles is a fake. They say that it is the muslim scientist, doctors who present these scientific researches and facts and these are there 'own'. There is no truth in it. In fact, this claim of the Christian missionaries is a fake claim. Only not in this example but it in all cases we see that Quran presents those miracles which are part of established science. Here are a few researches and reports regarding breastfeeding :


 

Mothering Magazine

"The Evidence in Favor of Breastfeeding There is no evidence that breastfeeding a child beyond infancy is harmful. Quite the opposite is true: breastfeeding benefits toddlers and young children, both nutritionally and psychologically. Breast milk remains a valuable source of protein, fat, calcium, and vitamins well beyond two years of age. (1) Immunities in breast milk become more concentrated as nurslings mature; (2) at the same time, the likelihood of allergies decreases. (3) Mothers who nurse past infancy derive benefits as well, including a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer the longer she continues nursing. (4)  Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers and young children. It not only perks them up and energizes them; it also soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early childhood. In addition, nursing past infancy helps little ones make a gradual transition to childhood. In fact, prolonged nursing is associated with better social adjustment. Breastfeeding past infancy is as old as humanity.

Extended Breastfeeding and the Law, Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. Mothering magazine, spring 1993

Dr William Sears


"We have noticed that children who have been weaned too early show what we call diseases of premature weaning: aggression, anger, more tantrum-like behavior, anxious clinging to caregivers, and less ability to form deep and intimate relationships. Breastfeeding seems to mellow out the aggressive tendencies of toddlers and restores balance into their behavior." – Dr William Sears, The Discipline Book, 1997

Dr.James Prescott


"…, it has been my challenge to the criminal justice system to find one murderer, rapist, or drug addict in any correctional facility in America who has been breastfed for 'two years and beyond', as recommended by the World Health Organization." – Dr James Prescott, 'Touch the Future', Spring 1997.


British Medical Journal

A research, published in The Lancet - a British Medical Journal (Vol. 357, of Feb. 10, 2001, pp. 413-419) suggests that babies fed infant formula grow up to have higher blood pressure than those given breast milk. The scientists found that the diastolic blood pressure reading- the lower number- was 3.2 points lower in the teens fed breast milk than in those given pre-term formula. The systolic reading - the higher number - was 2.7 points lower. An elevation in either reading is bad. Major American heart disease studies have found that if adults' diastolic blood pressure was lowered just two points, the prevalence of high blood pressure would drop by 17 percent, the risk of heart disease and heart attacks would drop by 15 percent. "The most likely thing is there is something in breast milk that protects," Lucas said. (Alan Lucas is a co-author of the article along with Atul Singhal and Tim J Cole). Studies in the 1990s have shown that breast milk is associated with improved intelligence quotient, and cognitive development. On the other hand early childhood anemia is associated with mild or moderate mental retardation.

Ideal Period for Suckling

From the above sources the benefits of Breast feeding become clear to us and this is why we Quran emphasizes on it. Also the period of suckling ordered by Allah is the ideal period. World Health Organization and UNISAF Organization performed many researches on infants, and got a result from these researches that the ideal period is two years, because, during the first two years, the infant needs urgently sterilized milk like mother's milk as his immunity system can't confront any probable disease before two years of his age.

Scientists discovered mother's milk contains immune substances counteraction to germs, knowing an embryo in the womb takes these immune substances during pregnancy, and then when he comes out, he is surrounded with many infectious factors so he needs additional immunity where he can't find but in mother's milk.

Health World Organization held a conference titled "Complementary feeding" in 2001 and the conclusion comes:

The first two years of the infant's life is a critical window during which the foundations for healthy growth and development are built. Infant and young child feeding is a core dimension of care in this period.

Also, in the conclusion of the conference, the ideal period for suckling is two years, because the infant needs urgently the immune bodies to develop his immunity system during this period, he can't find these bodies but in mothers milk.

Conclusion:-

From the above reports of "authentic" sources, we see that the modern science tells us that for the better nourishment of the baby and the mother, the baby should be breastfed from at least six months and up to 2 years and to derive the best benefit the baby should be fed for 2 years like the US Surgeon General has stated that it is a lucky baby who continues to nurse until age two.


 


 


 


 

See the complete list of Scientific Miracles in Surah Baqarah here


 

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Muhammad.Awais.Tahir@gmail.com

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2 comments:

Ajlaa Hashim said...

Subhanallah..thanks for sharing :)

Busy Mommy DXB said...

Thank you for this explanation of breastfeeding from a Muslim perspective. I'm not a Muslim but I live in Dubai. I've heard over and over that how long a mother should breastfeed is explained clearly in the Quran. Your post was very helpful.

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