by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
Following a two days’ ‘Dialogue to Promote Awareness on Exclusive Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition’ held recently in Jos, Media Practitioners were taken out for a field work, where they visited Toro General Hospital and Primary Health Care Bukuru and met with some of the breastfeeding mothers.
Exclusive Breastfeeding is to provide babies with all the nutrition they need for their first 6 months, and influences lifelong health for both mum and baby.
Breastfeeding is said to be a sustainable and natural option for infant feeding and helps ensure food security for babies across all populations and sets up baby’s immune system. It also decreases their risk of many illnesses and decreases a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life.
Speaking at the field work in Primary Health Care Center Bukuru, a Registered Midwife, Nyiri Markus Pam, while addressing breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women said when they give birth to their baby, the baby is still developing and their stomachs are not very strong to take heavy food. So, breast milk is the food that they can give to their babies for easy digestion.
She explained that, the approach “helps their babies’ intellectual development, and it boosts the immune system of the baby because part of the yellowish and colostrums is the part that will boost the immune system of the baby by protecting the baby from disease. So, these are some of the advantages of Exclusive Breastfeeding. We encourage pregnant women to practice exclusive breastfeeding when they give birth to their children, for the health of the baby.”
The Registered Midwife disclosed further that, they also encourage pregnant women to eat well and have a balanced diet, because when the woman is pregnant, the baby’s head is placed on the bladder. That is why the woman extremely results to pains often.
According to her, after exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, it is expected that there should be complementary feeding of baby’s beverages like Nan, Lactogen, among others.
“But, when and if they can’t afford it because of the hardship, they can use Pap or Kunu Tamba, things that are soft to enable the child degest and grow bigger. The natural food, especially gari and tamba that we use in our homes, we can use it and to start feeding the baby with it,” she added.
Also speaking at the field trip, Pam Chung, who is a Community Health Worker, said exclusive breastfeeding has been very well accepted in their community “because we try as much as possible to as a matter of serious concern to apply it on women, especially those coming for the facilities, to ensure that they are breastfeeding their babies as expected right from birth.”
He said, “The performance so far is good, very excellent and, because of this, our young women, who are trying to go to a shortcut by giving beverages and we are trying to correct them on that, so that they make sure they give their children exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months before any other or introducing them to any other food supplement or whatever they can give.”
Speaking on whether their husbands agreed on the 6 months’ exclusive breastfeeding or not, he said, “Well, you cannot rule out that to an extent, because some of these husbands have little misconception with the exclusive breastfeeding.
“We are also in our own way as Community Leaders in our community meetings trying to make them understand and see reasons to why they should allow their women to do that exclusive breastfeeding,” he said.
He stressed that, “Challenges are that, some of them say they don’t have enough food to take care of the women to complete that exclusive breastfeeding, because you know, the mother has to be taken care of properly so that they can give the child or feed the child properly.”
Pam Chung also noted that, “Women always want to go modernization; that is why they are trying to run away from the native food that we have. But we are trying to encourage them that the native food is more important and very effective more than even the ones that they are thinking about.”
While urging the nursing mothers to be using basic food in the community, as it is cheaper for themselves and for their children even after 6 months, the community leader added thus: “Let the children be eating basic food instead of buying baby’s beverages. It is imperative for them to imbibe with the local food, especially now that they are complaining of (dwindling) resources; why not fall back to native food, which our parents have leaned on all these year? It is very, very important.”