Doctors at EMS co-operative hospital in Mukkam in Kozhikode district had to deal with an unusual problem on Wednesday, when father of a newborn prohibited his wife from breastfeeding the infant, citing "religious reasons."
After giving birth to her second child on Wednesday, 24-year-old Hafsath refused to breastfeed the baby, when asked to do so by the nurse.
A shaken Hafsath told the hospital staff that her husband Aboobackar had prohibited her from breastfeeding the baby until five calls for prayer from the mosque were completed, over a period of 24 hours since the birth of the baby.
The family lives in Omassery in Kozhikode district.
Taken aback by the unusual request, the hospital staff tried to convince Aboobacker about the importance of breastfeeding the baby soon after the delivery, which is essential for the good health of both the baby and the mother alike.
â€śHe plainly refused to allow his wife to breastfeed the baby. This was purely based on some superstitious belief, which he claimed was part of his religion. The babyâ€™s father was advised by a Muslim preacher (Koya thangal) that new born babies should not need to be breastfed before the calls for prayer were completed,â€ť GM of the hospital Rasika Kamar told The News Minute.
Rasika said that Aboobacker challenged them claiming that his elder son was also breastfed after 24 hours and that the boy was completely healthy.
â€śHe said that he would not, under any circumstance, allow his wife to feed the baby. Hafsath and her mother were in fact worried that Aboobacker would give her talaq if she went against his words. Aboobacker said that he would take complete responsibility even if the baby passed away,â€ť Rasika said.
Aboobacker told TNM that he was living his life according to instructions given by a preacher named Hydrose Koya Thangal. â€śI had not allowed my wife to breastfeed our first child also for 24 hours. That hospital made me give an undertaking that I would be responsible if my child died. Nothing happened to my child. The preacher had told us to give the infant honey and some water from Mecca,â€ť he said.
Failing to convince the family, the hospital authorities sought the help of police officials.
â€śWe reached the hospital at around 2.30pm. He said that he had been running the family according to a Muslim preacherâ€™s advice for many years and that they have never had a problem because of that,â€ť Mukkam Sub Inspector Salim said.
He added that the preacher had told Aboobacker about "a cord from the belly button of the child that will provide nutrition to the baby".
Despite the officerâ€™s efforts, Aboobacker stood by his stand.
Rasika informed that the hospital has decided to move legally against Aboobacker for obstructing their duties.
â€śMoreover, he denied a babyâ€™s right and has put the childâ€™s life in danger. We will soon file a complaint with the police,â€ť Rasika said.
After the police left the hospital on Wednesday, Aboobacker forcefully sought discharge and left the hospital by 7.30pm.
â€śThe child was born at 1.30pm and until they left the hospital in the night, Aboobacker hadnâ€™t let his wife feed the child. We asked them to get admitted at the medical college, but we are unaware of their whereabouts now. He has not been responding to our repeated calls,â€ť Rasika said.