Medical director, Isolo General Hospital (IGH), Dr. Godwin Akhaboa, has stressed the need for exclusive breastfeeding to reduce infant mortality and promote better health for mother and child. He stated this during IGH’s commemoration of the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) themed ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’. “The WBW is celebrated between August 1 and 7 to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world,” he added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800,000 lives every year, the majority being children under six months. Breastfeeding also decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2-diabetes and heart disease, the UN body noted.
Akhaboa however, tasked parents to make exclusive breastfeeding their most important responsibility to the family. To encourage exclusive breastfeeding, the Lagos State government gives six months’ maternity leave to mothers, Akhaboa noted, adding that IGH also engages the community in affordable healthy eating. “We are doing all these to inculcate the habit of breastfeeding in young mothers.” We also encourage other members of the family to support new mothers and help them cope through the process. If this is done, it is a win-win situation for the baby, family and the society at large.
“With the support of governments, employers and communities, we have the power to enable breastfeeding and support families in fostering a nurturing environment for all children to thrive,” the doctor added. Apex Nurse of IGH, Elizabeth Boateng, noted that constant advocacy stimulated the interest of young and aspiring mothers in exclusive breastfeeding. Adding that breast milk is the gold standard, she said the state government’s intervention helped to drastically reduce child mortality and infant diseases. She, therefore, urged private organisations to adopt a friendlier work environment for mothers by having an in-house crèche to enhance breastfeeding and productivity.
On her own contribution, consultant paediatrician, Dr. Funmilola Showunmi, said inverted nipples or too large nipples, tiredness and sore or cracked nipples are some of the common challenges lactating mothers face. She advised mothers-to-be to decide on exclusive breastfeeding before the baby is born because circumstances could challenge the decision.