Nurturing Through Breast Feeding
by Mildred M. El-Amin
"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reach the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, 'O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favor which thou hast bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents....'"
Holy Quran 46:15
Family Life Question: "Breast feeding our new baby will be a new experience for me, and I'm concerned about providing an adequate amount of milk. What are some helpful things to know?"
Dear New Mother:
It is from the breast that "the milk of human kindness" literally flows. Human milk contains thousands of nutrients, some of which are not found anywhere else in nature. It is very specific in its design for the optimum growth and development of the human infant.
Breast feeding is a part of the continuation of life, that is evolving in the manner Allah has ordained. Breast feeding is natural. We have abandoned many of the beautiful natural things that Allah has given to us that would assure the sanctity of human life. We need guidance to adhere to the more natural ways of life that are in accordance with Allah's universal order. "There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance dependeth on Allah." (Quran 11:6)
Not only are the physical qualities of breast milk best, the emotional and spiritual bonding that takes place between mother and child is immeasurably vital to life. Breast feeding encourages bonding for the entire family. Allah has given the woman the role of nurturer of life, the role of providing the warmth, comfort, security and compassion that sets life on the best course.
There are many herbal remedies for breast feeding mothers. More than 30 herbs are considered to promote healthy milk producing. Nutritionists advise the widely know herb, fenugreek. Dr. Mohammed El-Shatet of Fouad University in Cairo, Egypt, reports in Mothering magazine (July-Sept. 1988) that fenugreek could increase breast milk production by as much as 900 percent. Mothers who had experienced their babies failing to gain weight found that infants thrived when they began drinking fenugreek tea. Even adoptive mothers have been able to produce milk for their babies after drinking this tea regularly. (3)
The effectiveness of an herbal remedy is dependent upon its preparation. Healing qualities are increased when herbs are grown in a kitchen garden with loving care and without pesticides and herbicides. There are natural pros and cons to using herbs while breast feeding: herbs may flavor milk; some herbs that affect the infant and are as potent as pharmaceutical products; herbal remedies may alter the composition of milk; herbs can influence the quantity of milk. When there is any room for concern, consult a nutritionist and always consult your caring physician.
Breast feeding is one way that Allah has given us as mothers to nurture life and through it, Allah wants us to feed our young ones the physical, emotional and spiritual food vital to life. Studies have revealed that "African" youth who are breastfed and carried about on the mother's back as she goes about through the day are among the youth with the highest intelligence levels in the world.
Kabongo, a Kikiyu chief in Africa, spoke these beautiful words about his mother when he was eighty years old: "My early years are connected in my mind with my mother. At first she was always there; I can remember the comforting feeling of her body as she carried me on her back and the smell of her skin in the hot sun. Everything came from her," as related in Touching the Human Significance of the Skin by Ashley Montagu.