Breast milk has been confirmed as the safest and healthiest food for a child. This is why health professionals recommend that breastfeeding may last up to 2 years. This will help to build a child’s immune system, protect the child against early childhood diseases and also help a child’s brain to develop better.
Be that as it may, there are some issues of concern when it concerns breastfeeding. Many of these issues have always been discussed with various solutions being proffered. This article further draws attention to these concerns and also make recommendations that will contribute to an improved breastfeeding culture.
Creating Time: Because of the pressure of sustaining the family, many mothers have become career women and this has continued to affect the breastfeeding culture. Some employments do not really give the mother the time to breastfeed her child adequately. Due to work, mothers leave their children with housemaids or at crèches with extracted breast milk for the child or processed baby foods. Some of these practices have not worked out well for the child. For example, the preservation of the extracted breast milk may have been done under unsafe conditions. Many infants and children have suffered severe illnesses and in some cases loss of lives due to lack of time that was created for breastfeeding. This is why I am particularly happy with the Lagos State Government in Nigeria for increasing maternity leave period from 3 months to six months for all civil servants. Not for only the nursing mothers, the State Government also approved 10 days paternity leave for the fathers. These are all in an effort to ensure the safety and health of the newborn.
Corporate organizations can support a good breastfeeding culture by emulating the example of the Lagos State Government by allowing nursing mother to really take the maternity leave without recalling them to work when their leave period had not expired. They can also provide crèches where nursing mothers who resume work can breastfeed their children. All of these should not be a threat to the job of the working mother.
Avoid Unsafe Practices during Breastfeeding: For the safety of the mother, sitting position when breastfeeding is very important to avoid discomfort. This is why the “Latch” method is highly recommended for breastfeeding mothers. However, there is a position that is sometimes unsafe when breastfeeding. Because of tiredness and sleep, many nursing mothers especially in Africa breastfeed their children while lying down, even sleeping and not conscious of the breast position and the child’s face. In one of my first aid trainings, a participant related how a nursing mother suffocated her child with her breast without her being aware until when she woke up. What a sad incidence! This is why nursing mothers must be aware of the danger of breastfeeding a child while sleeping. In the night Fathers also have a role to play here by making efforts to be alert especially if the nursing mother is breastfeeding a child while asleep. I believe this is one way fathers who work with the Lagos State Government can use their 10 days paternity leave to ensure the safety and health of their newborn.
The Latch method will also help the child’s mouth to be well fixed on the breast, which not only help proper intake of milk by the child but also prevents a child already growing teeth from biting the mother. This will prevent sores on the nipples and also prevent the child from being infected by blood-borne viruses such HIV and Hepatitis.
Avoid unsafe habits during Breastfeeding: For the safety and health of the child it is very vital for breastfeeding mothers to avoid the abuse or use of substances that may be harmful to the health of the child. Such substances include nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and other drugs. Regarding nicotine, one research shows that “the breast milk of smoking mothers contains between 2 and 240 nanograms of nicotine per millilitre, which means their babies receive a dose equivalent to 0.3 to 36 micrograms/kg/day. These infants tend to suffer more from colic and are more prone to respiratory infections. The advice is to give up smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or at least to limit the habit as much as possible, extend the time between the last cigarette and the baby’s feed, use nicotine patches, smoke outside the house and avoid smoky environments”. Source: sciencedaily.com.
For the safety and health of the child, let’s support the breastfeeding culture.