By Christopher Ambe
The decision by some healthy mothers- especially young ones, not to subject their new born-babies to exclusive breast feeding has been condemned by health professionals.
Speaking to journalists at a media sensitization conference in Buea last August 27, on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week 2012, organized by the Southwest Delegation of Public Health in collaboration with UNICEF,it emerged that the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the baby, mother, the family and the society as a whole ,are quite numerous.
The sensitization week was placed under the theme “Exclusive Breast Feeding, Not Even Water for the First Six Months of Your Baby’s Life”
|Some journalists with Dr.Ejigui (carrying red bag) after meeting.|
It has been observed that among other reasons some healthy young mothers choose not subject their new-born babies to exclusive breast feeding for fear that their breasts would become flaccid very soon.
But Dr. Ejigui Jeanne, of UNICEF Yaounde, who was one of the resource persons at the conference, insisted that mothers must consider the health of their babies first, and not worry about falling breasts.
Asked what mothers who just give birth should do when they realize that their breast milk is not flowing, Dr.Ejigui advised that new born babies be allowed to suck the nipples. She said sucking stimulates the breasts to produce milk.
She said mothers should start breast feeding in the first hour after birth, noting that, “Early breast feeding helps reduce bleedings”and that “Colostrum, the first yellow milk is good for the baby because it helps protect the baby against diseases and eliminates black stools”
On how new born babies be suckled, Dr. Ejigui recommended “Breast feed on demand”
She said after six months of exclusive breastfeeding, the child should gradually be given appropriate nutrients in addition to breast milk.
On his part, Mr.Epie Gerald, nutritionist, working at the Southwest Delegation of Public Health, enumerated the various benefits of exclusive breast feeding.
According to him, for the baby, during the first six months of life, breast milk: provides enough water and all nutrients the baby needs for proper growth; is easily digested by the baby; protects the baby against infections thanks to antibodies that it contains; creates and reinforces affective links between mother and child and helps an harmonious brain development of the child.
For the mother, the nutritionist said exclusive breast feeding “reduces the risks of breast and ovarian cancer”; reduces obesity and weight gain risks and that exclusive breast feeding also acts as a contraceptive.
Looking at the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the family and society, Mr. Epie said it helps achieve savings, reinforces social cohesion and reduces mortality rates.
The conference was opened by Dr.Bedifeh Atembeh, representing the Southwest Delegate for Public Health. Dr.Bedifeh Atembeh is head of Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) at the Delegation. He called on journalists to regularly educate the public on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding