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Allāh (SWT) has placed food and water for the child in the body of the mother, and has created an amazing system of feeding the newborn child in a manner which is perfect and most beneficial.

"The mothers shall give such to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear God and know that God sees well what ye do.  (The Noble Quran, 2:233)"

Feeding infants with breast milk has been shown to improve the baby’s health and their IQ, even benefitting the mothers for years to come by lowering risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The benefits of breast milk for babies are numerous; it lowers the rate of childhood obesity, decreases incidence of asthma and even betters brain development. Despite decades of research and promising marketing claims, the baby formula industry has not caught up to Mother Nature in the milk department.

Allah said in the Holy Quran: “The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term" (2:233)

What has been mentioned above assures that women should nurse their babies, without using any other methods like artificial suckling or cow's milk. This raises the argument about the reason for this:

1. The milk's composition: The composition of mother's milk changes depending on the nutrient needs of the newborn, its endurance, and what suits its instinct and organs-which develop on a daily basis. In contrast, the artificial milk has a constant composition. For example, the breast releases colostrum in the early days of lactation which contains more protein and mineral elements than in artificial milk, and antibodies which sustain the baby's immunity. But mother's milk has less cream and sugar. So, it has the perfect nutritional balance for the baby.

2. Digestion: The mother's milk is easily digested because it contains enzymes that aid the child's stomach enzymes. The stomach gets rid of its content in approximately one and a half hours. In addition, the gastric acidity stabilizes, and kills germs that reach it. However it takes time to digest the cheese curdles of cow's milk. Salts, which exist in cow's milk, modify and decrease the gastric acidity. This allows germs especially the colonic ones to reproduce causing vomiting and diarrhea.

3. Breast feeding is less expensive as it costs nothing.

4. Mother's milk contains a variety of antibodies that aid in the development of the baby's immune system. The varieties of antibodies are lower in cow's milk. Breasts fed babies are less exposed to having skin infections than bottle fed ones. Furthermore it supports the natural bacteria that exist in the intestines by absorbing vitamins and other nutrient elements, while artificial milk irritates the natural bacteria.

Mother’s milk, the best food for babies

It is narrated from the Prophet (SAW) said, “For a child, there is no milk better than the milk of the mother.” The Prophet (SAW) has also said that there is nothing that can take the place of food and water except milk. Likewise, it is narrated from Imām °Alī (as) that for a child, there is no milk that has more blessings than the milk of a mother.

Breastfeeding is not only feeding your child, but is the exchange of love and strengthening of the soul. When the child is feeding, he/she can hear the sound of the mother’s heart and this leads to relaxation and calmness. Breastfed children tend to be healthier and sounder, both physically and spiritually, and psychologists believe that breastfeeding keeps children happy and content positively affecting their Akhlāq.

Being breastfed is one of the rights of a child as well as the right of a mother, and has been strongly recommended in the Noble Quran and traditions. Indeed, its benefits are widely accepted in the world today. Naturally, it should be kept in mind that breastfeeding is only recommended if it does not pose any risk to mother or child.

Recommended Acts

1. The mother should have taqwa (piety), and should be careful that the milk should not be contaminated due to lack of piety and virtue. Especially during the period of breastfeeding, one should stay away from all types of sin. Mustaĥab acts and closeness to Allāh (SWT) have positive effects on the child.

2. Say “Bismillah” before starting to breastfeed. It is narrated from the Prophet (SAW): “Any important and valuable act that is carried out without the dhikr “Bismillahi Rahmani-Rahim,” will be imperfect and without a (good) conclusion.”

3. Patience and relaxation, anger and hot-temperedness, healthy and un-healthy thoughts, generous disposition and kindness and stubbornness and revengefulness all have an effect on the child. It is important to remember that the future of the child is in the hands of your actions.

4. Thank and praise Allāh (SWT) after breastfeeding

5. Finally, carry out all your actions, especially breastfeeding, with the intention of seeking Allāh (SWT)’s pleasure and closeness.

photo credit: garyfgarcia via photopin cc

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