By Ebunoluwa Sessou, Aisha Mohammed & Franca Odia
As World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated globally this week from August 1-7, stakeholders have been called upon to create awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding to the child, mother, father and community to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding, stressing that conducive and child-friendly work environments with dedicated nursing rooms, remain very important to make breastfeeding convenient and enjoyable.
With the theme: Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility, according to the World Health Organisation, WHO, the organisation states that breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival; as well as the best way to provide young infants with the essential nutrients required for growth and development.
According to the WHO, breast milk acts as the babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses.
World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration held in over 120 countries.
According to the development communications network, it was revealed in the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2018 NDHS, that the child mortality rate is 69 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to age 12 months, while the overall under-five mortality rate is 132 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Fifty-one per cent of all deaths among children under age five in Nigeria take place before a child’s first birthday, with 30 per cent occurring during the first month of life.
The NDHS also states that only 29 per cent of children are exclusively breastfed, EBF from age zero to six months, leaving a deficit of 73 per cent, being denied and by extension, denied the right to survival.
The Program Director, Akin Jimoh, asserts that as the world celebrates this important and auspicious day, it is paramount to note that breastfeeding; especially exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of infancy, is important and has many advantages.
“It should be a shared responsibility at all levels. The government, the workplace, communities, families and all key stakeholders must make efforts to ensure needed structures and systems are in place to protect and support breastfeeding.
“This will aid the prevention of childhood illness and promote healthy growth and development.”
His words: “Beast milk is essential and has lots of benefits both to the mother and baby, it supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
“Breastfed babies have healthier weights as they grow, they score higher on IQ tests. Breast milk protects against allergies, sicknesses, infections and obesity and is easily digested.
Also, research has shown that mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer. They may find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant and it strengthens the bond with their children.”
I breastfeed 10-12 times a day—Ugochi Chukwuma, businesswoman
When breastfeeding my baby exclusively, I went through some challenges such as having to share my work with my baby.
After breastfeeding her for some minutes and my baby is falling asleep, I would return to my work only for me to be called later that my baby is crying and she needs breast milk.
I tend to lose focus on my work and hurry back to breastfeeding her. Sometimes when attending to customers in my shop, the baby will start crying, so I would beg the customers to give me some time to breastfeed my child before attending to him or her.
Even when I am to attend meetings with other exporters, they know that I am exclusively breastfeeding. I tend to keep breast milk in a feeding bottle so that when she cries, my mother would give it to her.
Another challenge is having to do house chores, with focus on satisfying my baby when breastfeeding her too. After closing from work and it’s time to rest, I have to breastfeed my baby before doing anything. I am the type that always resumes my business before completing my 6 months exclusive breastfeeding.
I have to carry my child everywhere I go and whenever she cries, I have to sit down in a convenient place and breastfeed her. Also, I had to develop a pattern that could help make sure I always satisfied my baby before any other thing.
Sometimes it’s economical in terms of that I don’t have to buy expensive baby food to feed my baby within the period of 6 months, but in some cases as a nursing mother I have to make sure I feel well and healthy just to be able to breastfeed my child. Also have to feed well because anything I eat my baby also benefits from it, knowing that food items are expensive these days.
I did exclusive breastfeeding for my first child and didn’t do so for my other children. Some challenges I faced for the second child was that the baby was not weighing much like the baby I did exclusive breastfeeding for.
Some challenges of not exclusively breastfeeding for a child is that some children may be exposed to infectious disease because the breastfeeding serves as an immune system to keep the baby strong. Some will say a child that is not well breastfed has a low probability of not having health issues when growing up .
When a child is exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months, the child has a high IQ(intelligence quotient), it also helps aid the child’s growing process.
It also provides the baby with nutrition such as vitamins, protein and fats that will aid strong bones and tooth growth for the baby. Exclusive breastfeeding also helps babies fight off virus and bacteria during the process of growing.
Most breastfeeding mothers have different positions suitable for them, but for me, Laid-Back: is a fantastic breastfeeding position. It enables me to relax when attaching the baby easily to the breast.
This involves when I lay my baby across my lap facing me , position the baby to the side breast( maybe left or right), then placing my baby’s head on my forearm, making sure my baby is facing me and the nose is on the same level with the nipple. Make use of the other hand to hold your clothes.
I take my baby to the classroom—Oluchi Chineye, a teacher
As a teacher, I had some challenges as a nursing mother doing exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and having to focus on my pupils in the classroom.
Sometimes, I drop my baby off in the daycare in my workplace and have to also make sure I have extracted breast milk in a feeding bottle so when she is hungry the nanny will give her the milk
Sometimes I am called that the milk has finished and my baby is hungry because breast milk hardly lasts long or sustain the baby for a long time. I sometimes have to carry my baby even when teaching to make sure she doesn’t cry. Another challenge is having to satisfy my baby with breast milk even when I am busy with house chores after school.
Looking at the cost of baby foods, one will want to do exclusive breastfeeding just not to go into thinking of how to afford the expensive baby food. But the mother must be able to feed enough and be healthy because anything she consumes will either be of benefit or effects to the child.
Most times I breastfeed my baby eight to 10 times daily depending on how hungry the baby is.
I sit on a chair that I am comfortable with, then I position the baby on the breast. I want the baby to suck the left or right breast under my arm, with my hips close to my baby’s hips while also making sure my baby’s nose should be level with my nipple.
Also supporting my baby’s neck with my forearms and gently guiding them to the nipple.
I also make sure my baby is very much comfortable and does not choke on the cloth while breastfeeding.
It was difficult getting my husband’s consent — Balaraba Abdullahi
When I had my first child, my husband did not allow me to feed the baby with only breast milk, he frowned at it. He was totally against breastfeeding a baby with only breast milk, so I did not do exclusive breastfeeding for my first child.
But when I was pregnant with my second child, he usually accompanied me to the hospital for antenatal because the pregnancy came with a lot of complications, so he heard doctors and nurses telling us to breastfeed our babies exclusively with breast milk, that will it help fight unforeseen diseases and the protect child from constantly falling sick, so when I had my second child, I did exclusive breastfeeding.
Well, I have not noticed any difference but I believe exclusive breasfeeding for adequate growth is good.
It depends, I can’t really say, but I breastfeed anytime the baby is hungry including in the night.
I prefer non-exclusive breastfeeding because I can supplement with other baby foods and water so that I can rest too. Exclusive breastfeeding is not easy at all.
I never had an issue with exclusive breastfeeding, but I noticed exclusive breastfeeding is better because my other two children grew up very fast without constantly falling sick. Same applied to me; I didn’t have any problem at all. I go for post-natal; I did just what the doctors ordered. So I don’t have any health issue.
Breast milk contains everything baby needs for the first 6 months of life, in all the right proportions. Its composition even changes according to the baby’s changing needs, especially during the first month of life.
Breast milk is loaded with antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, which is critical in those tender, early months.
This particularly applies to colostrum, the first milk. Colostrum provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A as well as several other antibodies.
Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity.