Lately at Beyond 5 we have been talking about water. Now, imagine there is a lack of water and you have an infant. Breastfeeding is the number one way to keep that baby healthy and well.

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during the fist six months of life are numerous. Benefits are seen cognitively, nutritionally and there is increased immunity to preventable diseases. UNICEF reports that exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age, and complementary breastfeeding until the age of two, has the potential to prevent 1.4 million deaths of children under five. Survival rates during the first months of life are six times greater when the child is exclusively breastfed.

Pictured above is Kanhchara from a World Vision community in Cambodia. Ratana Lay, from World Vision Cambodia, reports:

‘World Vision has built capacity in the village health group on how to raise awareness to pregnant women on antenatal and postnatal care, taking vitamin A and iron supplements, HIV and AIDS, hygiene and sanitation.

The community’s goal is to decrease the rates of under-five mortality from 54 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010, stunting from 40 per cent, wasting from 11 per cent and underweight from 28 per cent in 2010. World Vision also works closely with village health group and health center staff to ensure that babies get breastmilk, vaccinations and also nutritious food after they are six months old.

Kanhchara shares her experience of first day after her due date.

“I was to pity my baby since the milk did not flow out properly. Thanks to my neighbor, he got breastmilk on first day,” says Kanhchara.

Vanny Pheng, 30, is a mother of four-and-a-half-month-old baby. She loves children so much. She fed Manara on his first day of life.’

A study in Ghana shows that breastfeeding within the fist hour after birth can reduce neonatal deaths by 22 percent.

Yesterday ended World Breastfeeding week. Awareness is important; even more critical is that breastfeeding is an integral part of every program to get children beyond 5. Beyond 5 is about integrating all of the pieces so that mothers and children have the chance to live to their full potential.

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