//Shola Ojo, Kaduna//
As world marks this year’s breastfeeding week, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) urged Nigerian nursing mothers to engage in exclusive breastfeeding, saying there is no alternative to it if the country will have healthy future leaders.
UNICEF said nursing mothers who feed their children with only breast milk in their first six months of birth stand a chance to be protected against all sorts of cancer associated with women.
Briefing newsmen on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Utpal Moitra lamented some cultural practice where the colostrum (yellowish breast milk within the first 30 minutes of childbirth) is been wasted, quickly added that breastfeeding within 30 minutes of childbirth will not only immune the child, but will equally save the mothers from maternal death.
“The 2016 World Breastfeeding Week was targeted at creating awareness on the relationship between breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding as a key component to sustainable development goals.
“Initiation of breastfeeding within 30 minutes after birth saves mothers from the risk of postpartum heamorrage and maternal death and exclusive breastfeeding on demand in the first six months of life without water or any other food starts every baby on healthy path in life, providing all the nutrients the baby requires for optimum growth and development.
“The feeding of the colostrum serves as the first immunisation against a host of diseases the mother must have been exposed to while continuing breastfeeding up to two years and beyond with appropriate complementary feeding supports optimal health, psychosocial and cognitive development with higher Intelligence Quotient and mental development.” He explained.
In a remark, Kaduna State Nutrition Officer, Mrs. June Gwani noted, that against the general belief of mothers that, baby needs water, she said all water a baby needs in the first six months of life is contained in breast milk.
According to her, breast milk contains 85% of water, so there is no fear of absence of water in the breast milk.
She stated categorically that, constant breastfeeding of the baby protects nursing mothers against cancer of the uterus and breast cancer, such as it equally helps the mothers’ uterus to go back to position quickly after delivery.
In her presentation, titled; ‘Breastfeeding: A key to Sustainable Development and Addressing the Current Situation and Challenges of Malnutrition in UNICEF Kaduna Field Office States.’ UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Dr. Florence Oni said, northern Nigeria was lagging behind in proper breastfeeding, which had resulted to high rate of malnutrition in the region.
She said breastfeeding baby on demand both day and night, is just the right thing to do for a mother who cares about the future of her child as breastmilk contains all the nutrients and water a baby requires up to six months, warning that minerals and vitamins are not to be given except when medically prescribed.