By Olayinka Latona
Blessed is the bosom, which has known the comforting sensations of a hungry mouth, pressed against it, and clinging onto it for the warm refuge of the sweet flowing satisfaction. Undeniably, breastfeeding is the best gift a mother can give to her child and herself.
This was the thrust of the 2010 World Breast feeding Week (WBW) with the theme, “Ten Steps the Baby Friendly Way.â€
Prof. Edna Iroha, paediatrician and Chairman Breast Feeding Hospital Initiative Lagos University Teaching Hospital Idi-Araba Lagos revealed that in the early 90’s after series of campaigns, 60 percent of Nigerian mothers were exclusively breast feeding their babies but few years later the data dropped to 14 percent due to lack of sustainability.
She said this during the breast feeding programme at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Primary Health Centre, Pakoto.
Iroha said the campaign is not sustained due to lack of sustainability by all concerned agencies. She however, advised Nigerian mothers to go back to exclusive breast feeding as it the safest and the most secure source of nourishment for babies adding that breast feeding protects the baby against illness and ensures warmth and comfort to the baby that is held close to the nursing mother.
And that breast milk is a unique nutritional source that cannot adequately be replaced by any other food, including infant formula. In her words â€œNigerian mothers should go back to breast feeding and not only breast feeding but they should exclusively breast feed their children.
As Nigeria is breast feeding nation and 90 percent of our babies would have breast milk at one time or the other in their lives but our problem is that we are not doing it exclusively and so our babies are not benefitting maximally.
So mothers should go back to exclusive breast feeding, it is adequate in terms of fluid, nutrition, it has the protective effect, you will find out that any baby that is well feed is unlikely to be down with cough and catarrh. And above all the bonding which the baby get through the mother by skin to skin contact and eye to eye contact are wonderful as you cant exchange these with any other thing.â€
Also, some of the breast feeding mothers at the programme are of the view that breast-feeding goes beyond health considerations. They said mothers who nurse their children enjoy social and economic advantages as well. They also urged government to intensify more on the teaching of breast feeding as they also learn from the breast feeding programme.
Mrs. Bola Ajisegiri from Ilepa in Ogun state said The joyful bonding she always get through breast feeding her children is the greatest joy of her life. â€œThe joyful bonding with your baby is a greatest joy all mothers enjoyed when breast feeding. If you notice these children they are always happy and delighted when sucking breast and they constantly look at their motherâ€™s face.
That is why most of children are always closer with their mother. Also I donâ€™t know that if I breast feed my baby it will enhance the baby intelligent but today I have learnt that great lesson.â€
Fatima Olajide, also a mother, said that she only believed in breastfeeding her baby for three months but through the programme she realised that it ought to be six months exclusively.