Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Medical | By

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

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

In many countries, it can even be a matter of life or death. Breastfeeding, says World Health Organization, is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need, which recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old. For this, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond with addition of complementary foods from the 6th month. Other challenges can arise around a woman's milk supply or an infant's ability to latch on to the breast.

Another obstacle mothers face is discomfort during nursing. The city's Maternal, Child, Women and Man's health manager, Thembane Masina, has encouraged exclusive breastfeeding by both HIV negative or positive mothers. If the mother is in anti-cancer medicine, hyperthyroid (antithyroid medicine) or a motherless child, they would need a guide.

Briefing journalists yesterday, Ministry's Nutrition Senior Advisor Dr. Belaynesh Yifru stated that breastfeeding is the basis for building healthy generation.

A Professor of Child Health and Consultant Neonatologist, University of Benin/University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UNIBEN/UBTH), Charles Eregie, has once more asserted that there are no substitutes to breast milk.

"Breastfeeding children within an hour of their birth allows them access to colostrum, the first of breast milk that is rich in antibodies".

He surmised that the little baby breastfed benefits from the growth spot during the first six months of life, coupled with the child's survival that protects the baby from diseases, disorders and help nourish good nutrition.

We also need to realise that bottle feeding has become so normalised that many women seeking to breastfeed are missing out.

Yet, worldwide, there are still low levels of optimal breastfeeding. After childbirth, the little baby and I tried to bond over breastfeeding. This is to enable the mother breastfeed the baby on demand whenever the baby wants to breastfeed. 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.

"While early initiation of breastfeeding has remained consistently about one in three women between 1990 and today, thus it increased to 38 per cent and later dropped to 33 per cent".

The report reveals that breastfeeding rates within the first hour after birth are highest in Eastern and Southern Africa (65%) and lowest in East Asia and the Pacific (32%). Supportive healthcare systems, adequate maternity leave entitlements, workplace interventions, counselling and educational programmes can all help to improve breastfeeding rates.

They also viewed that malnutrition is responsible, directly or indirectly, for about one thirds of deaths among children under five years old.

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