A group, Safe Mamahood, on Friday urged nursing mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children for six months as the best source of nutrition for the infant.
The Coordinator of the Initiative, Ms. Vivian Agomuo, spoke to the Newsmen in Lagos ahead of the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week, which starts from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7, 2020.
According to Agomuo, adequate nutrition is essential during infancy and early childhood, and indeed the first 1000 days of the child for the child’s growth, health, and cognitive development.
She disclosed that the theme of the World Breastfeeding Week 2020 was: “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet”.
According to Agomuo, in line with the 2020 theme, the WHO and UNICEF urge governments to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counseling, a critical component of breastfeeding support.
“Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It delivers health, nutritional, and emotional benefits to both children and mothers and it forms part of a sustainable food system.
“But while breastfeeding is a natural process, it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding,” she quoted the international bodies as saying.
The Safe Mamahood boss said that breastfeeding was beneficial to both the mother and the child, economically, socially, and health-wise.
“WHO recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives, after which complementary foods can be introduced for up to two years of age and beyond.
“Exclusive breastfeeding is when a child is given only breast milk as a food, on-demand.
“ There will be no giving of water, pap, juices, or any other thing and the breast milk must be given when the child wants it,’’ she said.
On some benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk, she said that the breastfeeding period was the most critical period of each child’s life in terms of his/her growth, development, and bonding with the mother.
“Breast milk is a unique source of food for babies that contains all necessary nutrients required for the infant’s health, growth, and development.
“The first form of milk that comes out from the breast after childbirth is called Colostrum and it has many benefits, especially immunity-boosting properties.
“Breastmilk contains numerous antioxidants that protect babies from harm caused by pathogens.
“Exclusive breastfeeding up to the first six months of an infant’s life reduces the risk of developing gastrointestinal infections, asthma and increases prevention on development of childhood obesity
“Breastmilk is an important source of antioxidants including vitamin C and E which prevents or reduces oxidative damages to various body tissues.
“Many anti-inflammatory agents which protect the baby from inflammatory harm are also contained in the breast milk,’’ she said.
The Safe Mamahood Coordinator said that breastfeeding provided an opportunity for the baby to feel the warmth and love of the mother.
According to Agomuo, breastfeeding is cheaper for families, especially in these harsh economic times, because families do not have to be spending money buying infant formulas which are expensive now.
However, she advised nursing mothers to eat a good diet with enough fruits, vegetables, and water so as to be healthy enough to feed the babies.