Stakeholders in the health sector have called on mothers in the country to embrace exclusive breast feeding, stressing that breast milk is the best natural source of food for infants for the first six months of life.
They noted that the practice had become imperative because breast milk, contains all the essential nutrients needed to promote healthy growth and development of infants.
The stakeholders made the call at the 15th edition of Afribaby Babies and Moms Exhibition organised by Afribaby, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in commemoration of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week in Lagos tagged “Breastfeeding, A key to sustainable development”.
One of the stakeholders and Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Prof. Wale Oke, said the nutrients in human breast milk are adequate in quality and quantity for the survival of infants.
“Breast milk is produced by human beings and God in His wisdom knows that breast milk produced by human beings is better than those produced by cows and other sources.
The milk is made for human beings as well as the protein contained in the milk.
Breast milk contains an immunoglobulin which coats the lining of the intestines, and helps prevent germs from penetrating through even the skin of babies”, he said.
Oke enjoined mothers to ensure early initiation of breastfeeding, revealing that it has a higher tendency to enable the child survive pneumonia because there are certain protective factors and chemicals in the breast milk that strengthens the child response to the disease.
Oke also noted that when a mother breast feeds her child, it creates bonding between them, hence, calling on fathers to support the mothers during the period of breast feeding especially during the first six months.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve growth, development and health.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquid is given, not even water with the exception of oral rehydration solution or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals and medicines.
According to the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, exclusive breastfeeding is the foundation for human building.
Stressing that optimal breastfeeding practices, which include timely initiation of breastfeeding within 30 minutes of delivery, exclusive breastfeeding of 0-6 months with only breast milk, no other milks, solid or semi-solid foods and not even giving baby water until the 6th completed month has proven great impact to health, education, economic returns to the child, family, community and nation at large.
Chairman of Afribaby Initiative, Mrs. Bintu-Fatima Tinubu, appealed to mothers to keep on breast feeding their babies in order to promote bonding and brain development of the babies.
In her remarks, Executive Director of Aribaby, Mrs. Olayinka Odiboh, revealed that exclusive breast feeding guarantees infant survival.
“Breast milk is always ready for consumption. So, mothers should give to their babies’ breast milk that God has given to them rather than artificial milk which exposes them to diseases” she said.
Odiboh said Afribaby is concerned about all that has to do with baby care and mother care with reference to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5.
Adding that the NGO is also assisting the United Nations (UN), World Health Organisation (WHO) and Governments at all levels in providing new opportunities for infant and maternal survival.
The event which also marked the 5th Anniversary of the NGO, witnessed Breastfeeding Contest and Daddies Competition where winners were given lots of exciting gifts.