Prof. Alash’le Abimiku, Executive Director, International Research Centre for Excellence, says it is the right of a child to be breastfed by the mother because of the benefits derivable from the practice.
Abimiku made the statement in an interview in Abuja on Tuesday and stressed that a newborn child must be given breast milk exclusively irrespective of the mother’s career.
“It is good to know that every woman can breastfeed successfully and it is also good to know that breast milk is the best food when we look at the nutritional values.
“The comfort that comes with it when we look at the healthy component that makes breast milk the best possible start we can give our young ones.
“So, every child should be provided with breast milk and that is a matter of right because every child has a right to good nutrition and good health.
“Every mother has a responsibility to breastfeed her child.
“So, it is a matter of right and we believe that breastfeeding is another way of ensuring that the future generation is not only healthy but is prepared to meet the challenges that come with modern living,’’ Abimiku said.
She said protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, water and vitamins were some of the nutritional components in breast milk that enhanced healthy growth in children.
The professor pointed out that breast milk contained anti-bodies that protect the body from infections like pneumonia.
“We also have diarrhoea that comes into the body and you find the child reacting to it or having rashes or even later on in life he/she may develop things like asthma.
“Breast milk can prevent all that and we know that childhood cancer can be prevented through breastfeeding.
“This advantage we see is not limited to the child alone. The child gets a lot of food for him to grow,’’ she said.
Abimiku further said that the bond between the mother and the child was usually determined through the act of breastfeeding.
She said the act usually helped the child’s growth and enabled him or her to relate socially with other members of the family and community in a healthy manner.
The expert further explained that the love of community, society, family and country usually stemmed from the bond associated with the mother’s breastfeeding of the child.
She added that apart from the child, mothers also benefited when breastfeeding their babies.
“Breastfeeding helps the mother to regain her normal shape after child birth.
“During pregnancy, she is likely to add some weight but when she is breastfeeding, that weight is converted to energy for the child.
“So, you discover that a woman breastfeeding exclusively, like we are recommending without water or any other food for the first six months, will regain her normal beautiful shape before she became pregnant.
“Again, breastfeeding helps to protect the mother from blood loss after child birth; this is so because when a woman breastfeeds, it helps the uterus to contract and expel the placenta.
“If the placenta is not expelled, that woman will continue to bleed and blood lost can compromise her health and life,’’ Abimiku said.
She said breastfeeding was not costly as parents did not need to go out to buy it.
Abimiku also said HIV positive mothers could exclusively breastfeed their babies with the help of anti-retroviral drugs.
She explained that transmitting the virus from mother to child during delivery was 40 per cent possible if adequate care was not taken.
She said anti-retroviral drug was the only solution to suppressing the virus and that the mother must adhere to prescriptions to be able to breastfeed her baby exclusively.
“It has been proven that a mother can transmit HIV to her child even during pregnancy, child birth or the period of breastfeeding and if she is not given anything at all to prevent this transmission,
“She is placed on highly active anti-retroviral drug which is able to bring down the number of virus in the blood and helps transmission rate fall drastically.
“The child is also placed on prophylaxis for six weeks from the day of delivery and this serves as anti-retroviral for the new-born,’’ she said.