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Voxpop: Exclusive breastfeeding- how practicable?

By Naomi Tenebe  & Chioma Okonkwo

The duration of exclusive breastfeeding as specified by the World Health Organisation, WHO, is six months after birth. Infants must thereafter receive complementary baby food along with breast milk for up to two years of age. Lactation, or milk production in the breasts, begins about one to three days after a woman gives birth. Pituitary hormones stimulate milk production in response to the stimulation of the infant suckling the nipple. Exclusive breastfeeding is the process of feeding a new born baby exclusively with breast milk and no other supplement.    Some women spoke with WO about the importance and ills of both exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding. Excerpt:


 I couldn’t keep up— Mrs  Fumilayo Adekunle

“As a mother, I tried doing exclusive breastfeeding for my daughter but I couldn’t keep up, although it has its advantages. It helps the baby to regain all the weight lost at birth. Also, exclusively breast- fed babies quickly recover from infections. Exclusive breastfeeding also protects the baby from becoming sick. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer in the mother.  Exclusive breastfeeding also requires the mother to feed 8-12 times a day; it may be difficult for her to look after other household or work-related chores. Your eating order would also be affected because you would be restricted to certain kinds of food as some can be harmful to the baby and if the mother does not breastfeed the newborn baby well, the baby may suffer from dehydration, which can pave way for other health problems.”

I didn’t do it for any of my kids— Mrs Theodora Tenebe

“I’m very indifferent about exclusive breastfeeding  although I didn’t do it for any of my kids but breastfeeding  can be a satisfying experience for the mother. Breastfeeding creates a bond between the mother and the baby and it’s also a cheap and reliable source of food for the child and also fewer food problems. Breast milk also builds the immune system and promotes healthy digestion. Although during breastfeeding women experience nipple pain and sores, and also your movement is restricted so you have to be with your baby all the time and have less free time for yourself. A distressed baby can also be consoled by breastfeeding.”

I didn’t have time for it at all—Mrs Lucy Eromosele 

“The healthiest babies are the ones exclusively breastfed. It protects the baby from a long list of illnesses, protects them from developing allergies. It may also protect the baby from obesity because breast milk contains less insulin than formula. Exclusively breastfeeding babies may boost the intelligence of the babies. It also reduces the stress level of the mother and the risk of postpartum depression. Some women can also have challenges breastfeeding in public because of the change in their bodies during pregnancy; low supply of milk can also occur in some women not being able to produce milk. Some mothers experience breast pain and also might transfer infection from the mother’s body through the breast milk that would have a bad effect on the baby.”

I tried it with my last baby but couldn’t cope—Mrs  Eyitope Akpalara

“Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the best ways to have a healthier baby. It is an empowering way to see your baby grow and thrive on your breast milk alone. Breast milk helps the baby to have better antibodies which prevent the baby from  falling ill frequently. It is also a great way to learn about your baby and may prevent obesity for both the mother and the baby. There is also delay in menstruation and if a mother consumes too much caffeine, it can cause sleepless nights for the baby. Diseases like HIV, untreated tuberculosis and other forms of diseases can be passed through breastfeeding. I, however, tried it with my last baby but had to stop when I couldn’t continue due to time constraints.”


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