There is no doubt that the best nourishment for the child is the mother's milk as is confirmed by the religion and by medical science 64, except when an infectious disease or the like strikes the mother. One of the reasons for the prevalence of diseases in the child and in the mother is feeding something other than the mother's milk to the child. It harms the new born because his metabolism is not prepared for anything other than his mother's milk and so causes many types of illnesses as is witnessed these days. It also harms the mother because the body after childbirth prepares for breast feeding which, if it does not take place, can cause the milk to become clotted and coagulated in the breast, in addition to the dangers of non-secretion of surpluses in the body which are intended to be discharged through their proper channels. Furthermore, the breast that does not feed tends towards sagging which can lead to a decline of its beauty which is a loss where the woman who has a partner is concerned. Beauty is beloved in religion, common sense and in customs, as in the hadith: 'God is beautiful He loves beauty' 65, and other examples. The intellect weighs up each quality of perfection and beauty is one of the parts of perfection. As for custom, it is too obvious to mention.
It is recommended that the natural mother should feed the child whilst in a state of ritual purity because the milk passes to the soul and to the body as is proven in the religion and in medicine. Hence if the father is forced to feed the child by one other than the child's natural mother, then it is recommended that he choose a woman of good qualities according to the details laid out by scholars.
64 Psychological studies have shown that the child who is fed at the breast of his/her mother is usually less susceptible to psychological problems. The sense of security, warmth and affection which the baby feels at the mother's breast increase his/her attachment to her in the future. Also, as doctors would confirm, all attempts to find a synthetic substitute to mother's milk have failed. Mother's milk provides the complete requirements for the health of the infant and its physical and mental growth. (Our children, their growth, nutrition and their problems. 'Ali Hasan. p.70.). Also among the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother is the fact that it lessens the risk of her contracting breast cancer and helps to return the womb to its natural state and also works to dispel spots and blemishes from the face of the mother.
65 Shi'a Guide; Volume 3; Page 331.
Adapted from the book; "The Family" by: "Imam Muhammad Shirazi"
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