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Enlightening And Educating Pregnant Women And New Mothers On The Benefits Of Postpartum Breastfeeding Of Their Babies.

By Babatunde Joseph Oduntan
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A GENERAL MEDICAL Practitioner and Family physician expert, Dr. Ayodeji Ogungbemi, a regular guest on ‘Doctors on Air’ weekly morning Rave FM Radio programme with Host Damilola Raphael, on Wednesday 16th August, 2017 in Osogbo Osun state, highlighted and expressed to pregnant women and new mothers in Nigeria the importance and benefits of breastfeeding their new born babies immediately after delivery.

As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Education Foundation(UNICEF), Dr. Ogungbemi noted that the first natural milk that comes out of the mother’s breast 1-3 days after delivery is called Colostrum or ‘Golden milk.’

The breast milk he said contains nutrients, antibiotics and vaccines that protects babies against bacteria and are very important and essential for the healthy growth and survival of the new born baby, particularly babies born premature. A new born baby he warned must not be fed on any formula food, liquid food or herb or breast fed by any other mother other than her real mother after birth to prevent infection. Many infant deaths recorded globally particularly in developing countries of the world he said are as a result of inadequate or improper breastfeeding of mothers after giving birth in hospitals or private clinics.

Dr. Ogungbemi emphasized that breastfeeding is a natural way of feeding the new born baby to ensure the baby gets the required nutrition from the mother. He stated that many of the available baby formula food today do not contain or match up with the nutrients found in a mother’s breast milk.

He made it clear that women should register in a government hospital immediately they observe they are pregnant and must attend the antenatal clinic regularly because it is at this time they are informed and educated on the importance and appropriate techniques of breastfeeding their new born babies after delivery.

On when to start breastfeeding a baby, Dr. Ogungbemi said,according to the recommendation of WHO and UNICEF, a baby must commence breastfeeding 1-30 minutes of birth and must be breastfed for the first six months of their birth and this must continue for even one or two years. He stressed that breast milk contains nutrients that help give baby immunity against secondary infections and has minerals, vitamins, amino acids, white blood cells and other antibodies that will help develop the brain of the baby and will also help decrease the risk of other diseases or infection.

As regards the rate and frequency of breastfeeding a baby, he said for good weight increase, new babies must be breastfed every two hours or 8-12 times for about 10-20 minutes at each siting every day. He advised mothers who have difficulties in breastfeeding their new born babies to quickly seek help from Midwife Nurses in hospitals where they delivered. He prompted that modern technology is now available to help mothers pump milk from their breasts and store in bottles or plastic bags and kept in refrigerators for use to feed babies whose mothers are unable to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding babies with milk he further prompted prevents babies from becoming obsessed or over weight as milk contains Leptin a hormone that regulates fat and appetite in the body. Breast milk he also noted lowers the risk of childhood Leukemia, Asthma, Eczema any psychological disorder.

On the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers after postpartum, Dr. Ogungbemi made it clear that lactating mothers have strong bones since it is during this time that their bodies absorb more Calcium from the food they eat. Other benefits of breastfeeding to mothers which he stressed include, the lower risk of Breast or Ovarian cancer, Cardiovascular disease and can also reduce postpartum depression or stress level, post pregnancy weight loss, help the shrinking of the Uterus, reduce blood loss after delivery, delays menstruation after pregnancy and enhances good health of mothers after delivery.

The annual global World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) celebration was established by WHO and UNICEF in 1992 to create awareness of the importance of breastfeeding new born babies for healthy growth and to reduce infantile death in all nations of the world.

This year’s WBW celebration came up early in the month between 1st and 7th August, 2017 with the theme: “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.” The theme expresses how protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding are key to sustainable development and are particularly important in achieving the 17 development goals of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity by year 2030.

In this year’s WBW celebration, WHO and UNICEF call on governments, leaders and all collaborators around the world to work together as partners for better tomorrow to increase women productivity and employment, improve our environment and reduce climate change, increase survival rate and the wellbeing of the people and to provide adequate nutrition, food security and reduce poverty level in all nations of the world.

Nigerians- Our leaders, policy makers, professionals of all cadres and the entire people of the country must work together for the common good of all Nigerians. Alone one can do so little, but together we can do much to move our nation forward. It is only by working together can we make the change we need to grow.

Dr. Ayodeji Ogungbemi is a Senior Registrar in the Geriatric Unit, Department of Family Medicine, Lagoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital(LAUTECH), Osogbo Osun state, Nigeria.