Towards a New World
When all the preparations are complete for the foetus to enter a new world, the amniotic fluid begins to perform new activities. The amniotic fluid forms fluid vesicles which will cause the entrance of the womb to expand to a size that will allow the baby to pass, and prevent the baby from being compressed in the womb during the birth process. When the birth begins, the vesicles are perforated and pour out the fluid they contain, lubricating and sterilizing the channel through which the foetus will pass. In this way the birth is easier and protected from bacteria.51
Along with these preparations made in the womb, a few other conditions must be met at the same time in order to have a safe birth. For example, for the baby to emerge from the womb, it must be in the right position. To achieve this, the baby's feet move, causing it to turn slowly until its head moves into the cervix. Now that the baby is too big to manoeuvre, the baby's ability to move is curtailed, and it cannot move its head out of that position.47 But how does the unborn baby make the decision as to which position is appropriate? How does it know the best position for the birth? And, how does the foetus in its mother's womb determine when it is time to be born? Certainly, these are very important things to think about. The fact that a being whose consciousness is still undeveloped can demonstrate such conscious behaviour is a clear indication not of its own will, but of the knowledge and inspiration of God the Creator.
In the stage at which the body comes into the world, there are many other examples of marvellous design to be seen. For example, in order for a healthy birth to occur, the baby's skull must have a structure that will not be damaged in the birth canal. If we look at the baby's skull, we see a group of 5 bones with a soft spot called the "fontanelle" between them. This soft structure gives to the skull a flexibility that prevents damage to the baby's brain and skull from the pressure that occurs during birth.
Before the birth of the baby, preparations are made under very strict controls; precautions are taken with a view to every eventuality. For example, amniotic fluid comes into play to facilitate the birth and prevent infection.
All these bring a question to mind: Who ensures that all these preparations have been completed, and determines that the time has come? Who checks that the eyes are ready to see, the lungs are ready to breathe, the joints are perfectly developed and the brain is completely formed?
In the developing body of the foetus, there is no such mechanism to control these things. The brain, which is accepted as the control centre for the whole body, is an organ that develops along with the foetus. Besides, even a perfectly formed brain could not discern any meaning at this stage. The foetus, which until that moment had developed in its mother's womb, is completely unaware of an external environment. It cannot determine whether or not it is in a condition suitable for an environment it has never seen. And it is not the mother who determines the time of birth. From the very first day, a mother cannot intervene in one single stage of the operations occurring in her body; how, then, could she decide when these stages have reached their completion?
There is no doubt that it is God Who controls every stage of the baby's development and determines when a human being will begin his life in this world. It is only God, Who created human beings, Who knows every moment of the lives they will lead. When a human being comes into the world, God even knows the day he will die. Death will come at the time God determined. An intelligent person who has an awareness of these facts knows what he must do: He must think about his own creation and once again bear witness to the eternal power of his Lord, and he must order his whole life in a way that will be pleasing to God.
Mankind! If you are in any doubt about the Resurrection, know that We created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, then from an alaq, then from a lump of flesh, formed yet unformed, so that We might manifest to you Our power. We make whatever We want stay in the womb until a specified time and then We bring you forth as children, so that you may reach your full maturity. Some die young and some are returned to the most decrepit (old) age when all that they once knew they know no more. (Qur'an, 22: 5)
The First Food of This World: MOTHER'S MILK
From the moment a baby opens its eyes to this world, its body must adapt to a new life. Every factor to facilitate this adaptation has been put into effect during and after the pregnancy. The clearest example of this is the stage of the formation of mother's milk.
The formation of the milk is provided by the mother's hormones. The production of milk is connected basically to a hormone called "prolactin" produced by the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. During pregnancy, the progesterone and the oestrogen hormones produced by the placenta prevent prolactin from being activated and producing milk. But the placenta is discharged after birth causing the level of progesterone and oestrogen in the blood to fall; after this, prolactin comes into action and contributes to the formation of milk. Because of this communication among the hormones, such a valuable nutrient as mother's milk is prepared exactly at the moment when the baby needs it. This is indeed a momentous exchange of information. While the placenta is in the body, it performs vital tasks but at the right time it must be ejected. This brings with it a very important development for human life. As we have seen, in the stages of human creation all the things that take place complement one another. Certainly, these are clear proofs that every human being has been constructed by a supreme power.
And these stages continue after the baby has come into the world. The production of milk by the mother increases according to the baby's need for nourishment. In the first days, up to 50 g. is produced; in the sixth month, the production may be as high as one litre. Those scientists who have tried to find the formula for mother's milk have been unsuccessful after long investigations because there is no standard type of mother's milk. In every mother's body, milk is produced according to the needs of her own baby, and this milk nourishes the baby in a way that no other extraneous nourishment can. Research has shown that the antibodies, hormones, vitamins and minerals in mother's milk are determined by the needs of the baby.
The Difference Between Mother's Milk and Other Nutrients
The use of nutrient material other than mother's milk does not completely meet the needs of the baby. For example, no other nutrient material contains the antibodies required for the baby's immune system.
Cow's milk is considered to be the classic nutrient material for babies. When we compare it with mother's milk, we can better understand the superiority of the latter. In cow's milk there is a higher amount of casein than in human milk. Casein is a protein found in coagulated (sour) milk. This material breaks down into larger pieces in the stomach making digestion difficult. For this reason, cow's milk is harder to digest than mother's milk. The fact that little of this material is found in mother's milk makes the baby's digestion easier.
These two kinds of milk are also different with regard to the composition of amino acids. Due to this difference in composition, the total number of amino acids present in the plasma of a baby fed with cow's milk is greater; the level of some amino acids is too high while the level of others is too low. This has negative effects on the nervous system and, because of the higher protein content, places an extra burden on the kidneys.
Another factor that makes mother's milk different is its sugar content. In mother's milk and cow's milk there is the same kind of sugar-lactose. But the amount of lactose in human milk (L / 7g) is different from that in cow's milk (L / 4.8g). Besides, the large coagulated particles of cow's milk pass much more slowly through the small intestine. For this reason, high amounts of fluid and lactose, which are very important, are absorbed in the first section of the small intestine. Coagulated particles of mother's milk (unlike those of cow's milk) pass through the small intestine easily, and lactose and fluid reach the large intestine. In this way, a healthy intestinal structure develops. The second advantage of the great quantity of lactose found in human milk is that it ensures the synthesis of a material called "cerebroside", which plays an important role in the construction of the essential structures of the nervous system.
Despite the fact that the fat level in mother's milk and cow's milk is almost the same, the quality of those fats is different. The linoleic acid in mother's milk is the only fatty acid required in the nourishment of the baby.
Another factor that distinguishes mother's milk is the amount and proportion of the salt and minerals it contains. For example, in cow's milk the amount of calcium and phosphorus is high; but the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in cow's milk makes it difficult to digest properly. Phosphorus can combine with calcium in the digestive tract and actually prevent the absorption of calcium. Therefore, if a baby is given cow's milk in the first days of its life, the way can be opened to certain abnormalities due to a drop of the level of calcium in the blood.
Apart from this, human milk is 50% iron. Because cow's milk contains a much lower proportion of this mineral, babies fed on cow's milk can develop anaemia linked to iron deficiency.
Richness in vitamins is another factor that makes mother's milk indispensable for the baby. From the point of view of the vitamins they contain, mother's milk and cow's milk are quite different. Despite the fact that the level of vitamin A is the same, the level of vitamins E, C and K is higher in mother's milk. The amount of vitamin D in mother's milk is sufficient for the baby's needs.
Mother's Milk Protects the Baby at Every Stage
A baby coming into the world from the protected, bacteria-free womb of its mother must fight against several bacteria in the external world. One of the most important features of mother's milk is that it protects the baby from infections. The protective cells (antibodies) that pass from the mother's milk to the baby cause the baby to start fighting against bacteria it had never known before, as if it had actually been informed. The antibodies contained in great quantities in the form of mother's milk called "colostrum", which is secreted in the first few days after birth, perform an especially protective function. This protection that mother's milk provides for the baby (protection from slight infections to very serious ones), is vitally important for the first few months, and its benefits increase in proportion to the period of breast feeding.
The benefits to the baby of mother's milk become more evident every passing day. One of the things scientists have discovered about mother's milk is that it is highly beneficial for a baby up to two years of age.
The importance of this recent discovery was revealed to us 14 centuries ago:
We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility and the period of his weaning was two years: "Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination." (Qur'an, 31: 14)
51 Laurence Pernoud, J’attends un enfant, Pierre Horay, Paris, 1995, s. 138
52 Geraldine Lux Flanagan, Beginning Life, A Dorling Kindersley Book, Londra, 1996, s. 103