Breastfeeding Friends Association Reveals its Study Outcomes on “Foster Mothers”

The Friends of Breastfeeding Association, FBA, of the Health Education Department at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, today (Monday) organized a panel discussion to announce the findings of the its recently prepared study titled “”Foster Mother”.

The study shed light on alternatives to breastfeeding and cases in which the mother cannot breastfeed her child, and the extent to which mothers accept breastfeeding as an alternative to formula.

The event comes as part of the FBA’s keenness on raising mothers’ awareness and encouraging them to breastfeed, being the optimal way to form a healthy family relationship and achieve a safe society.

Chaired by Eng. Khawla Al Noman, Head of Breastfeeding Friends Association, the session featured health, psychiatric, social, religious, and legal experts who discussed several themes, most notably helping mothers to breastfeed their children naturally or finding natural alternatives that are consistent with the legal and medical frameworks for women whose circumstances prevent them from breastfeeding their children.

The session also highlighted the impact of mothers’ inability to breastfeed and repercussions of this matter from health, psychological, legislative, social and legal aspects.

Providing All Forms of Support

In her opening remarks, Eng. Khawla Al Noman emphasized the FBA’s keenness on providing all forms of support to enhance mothers’ awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, pursuant to the visions and directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in terms of improving children’s physical and psychological health and giving each child a healthy start for a bright healthy future, through many activities, initiatives, and programs aiming to raise health awareness among mothers of the importance of breastfeeding.

“The study aims primarily to consolidate the breastfeeding concept and encouraging and bolstering mothers to be committed to breastfeeding owing to its importance, whether for the mother or the child. This can be achieved by helping mothers to overcome health, social or legal challenges and hurdles, as well as offering natural alternatives to breastfeeding, in line with Sharia and law and WHO’s resolutions,” Al Noman explained.

She further outlined the findings of the study, saying that 38% of mothers covered by the study are in favor of the idea of being a foster mother, while 62% of the mothers rejected the idea completely. The study also highlighted the most important reasons as to why mothers do not accept breastfeeding other than their children.  The reasons include their fears of insufficient milk, mixing of lineages, husband’s objection, or working conditions.

The study also scrutinized the conditions that must be available in foster mother, comprising that mothers should be free of diseases, husband’s consent, and adherence to the number of breastfeeding represented by 5 times according to Islamic law, along with ensuring the stability of the nursing mother socially and psychologically, Al Noman added.

This session comes as parts of the Association’s strenuous efforts to provide scientific and practical information to enhance the outcomes of the “Foster Mother” study, she concluded.

Exhaustive Information

The panel discussion provided an exhaustive information about the “Foster Mother” study from health, psychological, legislative, social and legal terms, where Dr. Ruqeya Fikri, FBA’s Vice President, Dr. Maryam Matar, founder and chairperson of the Emirates Genetic Diseases Association, and Dr. Hadia Radwan, Assistant Professor at the College of Health Sciences at the University of Sharjah, presented their interventions on the health aspect of the conditions of the foster mother, cases that prevent mothers from breastfeeding, and genes transmitted through the milk of the foster mother and its implications on the social structure.

Other interventions included a detailed explanation of the importance of breastfeeding, as being the optimal food for the infant’s health in terms of its components that are not available in any other infant food.

While Dr. Amal Zakaria Al-Nimer, Psychological and Family Advisor to the Family Development Centers of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah, presented an intervention on the impact of the foster mother’s psychological status on the infant and the surrounding environment affecting them.

Legal & Islamic Views

Furthermore, the discussions tackled the Islamic and legal provisions about foster mothers, where Dr. Samira Al-Shezawi, Preacher, Department of Islamic Affairs, presented an intervention in which she highlighted the conditions of breastfeeding in Islam, how to calculate the number of breastfeeding sessions and the legality of breastfeeding a child from another mother.

Hanadi Al-Mulla, Head of the Legal Advice Department at the Family Development Centers, provided an explanation of the legal aspect of the child’s rights to breastfeeding.

Fatima Al Marzouqi, Director of the Social Welfare Home for Children made an intervention on the importance of social stability for the nursing mother because it has a great positive impact on the infant by ensuring a stable family atmosphere.

Recommendations

Based on the outcomes of the “Foster Mother” study and the panel discussion, the participants have unanimously agreed on raising mothers’ awareness about the importance of finding a foster mother, if any, in case of inability to breastfeed directly, while ensuring legal reasons that help protect the rights of the infant.

Other recommendations included the importance of spreading awareness of breastfeeding introducing the priorities of international organizations concerning breast-milk alternatives, creating ‘foster mother’ (donors) registry to ease communication with them when needed in cooperation with government and health authorities, while highlighting the importance of breastfeeding and breast-milk natural alternatives through media outlets.

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