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Adelani Temiloluwa
School Of Nursing Ondo
Nursing Student
300Level, Nigeria.

Early breastfeeding can be life-saving, an expert, Mrs. Toyin Adewale-Gabriel, has said.

Mrs Adewale-Gabriel, who is of Alive and Thrive Nigeria, Mrs. Toyin Adewale-Gabriel, said when a baby gets the needed nutrients from the breast milk, it will help her to grow very well.

She stated this in Lagos at a media workshop.

She said the event was aimed at promoting the importance of early initiation of breast milk.

She lamented that only 32.8 percent of babies benefit from this exercise, explaining: “Keeping the mother and newborn together is essential to initiate the breastfeeding early as their separation even for a very brief period, results in delayed of breastfeeding initiation.”

Mrs. Adewale-Gabriel noted that good nutrition in the first 1,000 days was vital to children.

She said babies breastfed for the first six months were more healthy than those that were not.

She said as a result of poor nutrition among infants and under-five-children, Nigeria has the second highest stunting burden in the world, with over 11 million stunted children and a prevalence of 42 percent in 2003, 41 percent in 2008, and 37 percent in 2013.

Mrs. Adewale-Gabriel urged the Minister of Health to initiate laws that would promote exclusive breastfeeding (for six months).

She said if such law was not in place, producers and marketers of breast milk substitutes would continue to undermine exclusive breastfeeding.

“It would do more harm than good if such law was not put in place to check breast milk substitute. Poor monitoring and enforcement continue to dent efforts to improve infant and young children feeding practices in Nigeria.

“The new code when signed into law will ensure all mothers are supported to initiate breastfeeding immediately after delivery,” she said.

The Technical Advisor IYCF/Nutrition, Alive and Thrive, a project of FHI 360, Dr Sylvester Igbedioh, noted that Nigeria has the second lowest exclusive breastfeeding rate in Africa, adding that improving breastfeeding would prevent more than 54 per cent of all diarrhoea episodes and 32 per cent of respiratory infections in Nigeria.

Igbedioh said early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding of babies with no additional food, water or other fluids for six months, is also important to stem increasing cases of stunting in children.

“Nigeria has the second highest stunting burden in the world, with over 11 million stunted children. Preliminary data from MICS showed stunting has increased to 44 per cent in 2016. Severe stunting increased to 22 per cent.

“However, the provision of a mother’s breast milk to the infant within one hour of birth is referred to as early initiation of breastfeeding” and ensures that the infant receives the colostrum, or ‘first milk’, which is rich in protective factors,” said Igbedioh.

Igbedioh continued: “All mothers should be supported to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth, within the first hour after delivery. Through early initiation, infants get the first milk – colostrum, which is rich in antibodies and other important substances important for intestinal growth.

“Early Initiation provides early stimulation instinctive and provide warmth, love, security and food. It also initiates the process of bonding between baby and mother. Evidence shows that initiation of breastfeeding early after birth and exclusive breastfeeding during the first month is essential in reducing neonatal mortality and morbidity.

“Early initiation of breastfeeding was associated with a reduced risk of neonatal mortality. Early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding serves as the starting point for a continuum of care for mother and newborn that can have long-lasting effects on health and development,” Igbedioh.

The Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) President, Mrs Ifeanyi Omowole, said: “We, as professionals, needed a voice for women and child. That is why we partnered Alive and Thrive to promote the importance of early initiation of breast feeding among mothers to children and urge family members to support in this process. I urge the media to use the power of writing to put this alive.

“There are also growth factors, which are contained in the breast milk and cannot be got from breast milk substitute or any source of animal milk, such as goat or cow. Exclusive breastfeeding also saves the family cost of purchasing formula infant milk, which does not contain all the vital nutritional components needed for the growth of the baby.’’

By: Oyeyemi Gbenga-Mustapha and Adeniyi Adewoyin
The Nation News

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