Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, has called on employers in Nigeria to create an enabling environment for mothers to breastfeed the babies at work.
Speaking at the commemoration of 2015 World Breastfeeding Week themed: “Breastfeeding and work: Let’s make it work”, Ms. Buhari urged all mothers to remain committed to feeding the babies properly to help reduce malnutrition in the country.
Ms. Buhari, who was represented by the wife of the Kebbi state governor, Zainab Bagudu, said breastfeeding is key to reducing malnutrition.
The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, Linus Awute, represented by the Director of Public Health, Bridget Okeguale, said it was important that all Nigerian mothers be encouraged to breastfeed, even at work.
Also launched was the maternal Monday website, maternalmonday.org , which aims to create improved health seeking behaviour for all women and children
Ms. Okeguale said, “God has provided breast milk for womanhood to provide for her offspring. Please breastfeed your child exclusively for the first six months.”
She said there is no shame in breastfeeding, adding that breastfeeding messages must get to the rural areas.
An international lactation consultant, Clarissa Georgestone, said if a breastfed child is sick, he or she is likely to recover faster than a non-breastfed child.
Ms. Georgestone said while breastfeeding is beneficial to babies, it is also important for mothers to breastfeed as it is safe, easy and quick and can be given anywhere.
It helps to reduce the risk of some cancers and bone disease while reducing bleeding after delivery, she said.
Breastfeeding also helps with mother and child bonding.
However, a mother of two, Aisha Ibrahim, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, said exclusive breastfeeding is never an easy task. Ms. Ibrahim said while she admires women who can breastfeed their babies exclusively, she would not be quick to condemn those who cannot do same.
“With my first baby it was cool, I did not have a job then and she never demanded much because the breast milk was just enough for her. But this one started other milk on the first week of birth. The breast milk alone was never enough for him,”
She said before three month she had started preparing 200 millilitre of milk for the baby in addition to the breast milk as supplement.
The head of nutrition, federal ministry of health, Chris Isiokponou said, only 17% of mothers are breastfeeding exclusively in Nigeria.