Women's Month: Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed regardless of HIV status

The educational materials prepared to demonstrate the health benefits of breastfeeding for both moth

Women's Month: Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed regardless of HIV status

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated around the world from 1 to 7 August every year to raise awareness, protect, promote and support breastfeeding worldwide.

Breastfeeding is beneficial for mothers as well since it helps them to lose weight faster.

Nerea Ojanga, a midwife and breastfeeding consultant at the Kenyatta National Referral Hospital emphasised that a baby's stomach can not digest anything but breast milk for the first six months, and encouraged working mothers to express milk to sustain breastfeeding. "Colostrum is said to be high in antibodies and reduces the risk of death from hypothermia, helps in epithelial recovery and protects children from infectious diseases".

The speakers said breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need.

Enumerating on this to participants and health personnel at the world breastfeeding week symposium, with theme, "Breastfeeding: Foundation of life" organized by the Institute of Child Health (ICH), UNIBEN/UBTH, in collaboration with Department of worldwide and Global Studies, Mercer University, USA, Professor Eregie observed that it was a technical misnomer to refer to some entities as breast milk substitutes, as alternative food, for feeding babies.

Starting within one hour of birth, a child can be breastfed until the age of 2 years. Even when poverty contributes to less-than-optimal nutrition or inadequate access to food, breastfeeding remains the recommended and most beneficial choice for the child and mother. Gestro called breastfeeding a natural process of life, and a great binding process for mother and child. It also offers a quiet relaxed time for mother and baby to bond. "After six months, breastfeeding should be continued along with other nourishing foods for the baby", Masina said.

While the infant formula industry is a US$45 billion global business, with the means to run slick publicity campaigns targeting parents and health professionals, breastfeeding advocates rely mainly on well-documented evidence to get their messages across.

No one can deny the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the well-being of both the infant and the mother. This is especially important as most establishments in Nigeria do not make any provisions for crèches where breastfeeding mothers can bring their babies so that the babies are close enough for the mothers to take breastfeeding breaks and breastfeed their infants.

The course focusses on communication skills with new mothers and educating them about the numerous benefits of breastfeeding, which are instrumental in building a strong relationship between mother and child. Breastfeeding has a multitude of benefits for women and children, regardless of whether they live in a rich or poor household. To boost exclusive breastfeeding, the Global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative, led by UNICEF and World Health Organization in collaboration with worldwide partners, are providing leadership to improve breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding prevents malnutrition and has also irreplaceable role to decrease child mortality, Dr. Belaynesh said. Mothers can carry the pump and storage bag to their work place and pump there to keep up their milk supply.

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