While the world celebrates Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, some women still don’t think it’s necessary to breastfeed exclusively for at least six months.
Nor do they agree that only breastfed babies are smarter.
Nutritionists and other professionals strongly believe that breastfeeding is completely beneficial for children as it protects them from diseases and makes them smarter.
But in separate interviews in parts of Calabar, the capital of Cross River state, several mothers recounted their experiences, emphasizing that mothers should not be forced to breastfeed.
They argue that there may be circumstances in which breastfeeding will never be viable or will never work.
Maria Akpan has five children and lives in the community of Mbokpa in Calabar, south of the LGA.
“My first son did not like to suck my breast. He only sucked for about one month.
“Since he did not like to suck breast, I fed him with other quality natural foods as well as baby formula. He was never sickly. Today he is about 20 years old, very healthy and intelligent,” she said.
She said she is presently taking care of a two months old baby whose mother died upon delivery in the hospital.
“In such a situation, how can the baby be exclusively fed with its mother’s milk? The grandmother is alive but cannot produce breast milk,” she added.
Maria asked: ‘Even if the mother of the baby was alive, since she suffered from breast cancer, which took her life, how would she have fed the baby?”
Another respondent, Evelyn Samuel in her late 30s, a mother of two, said she never sucked her mother’s breast, and does not have a history of sicknesses.
She said she gave birth to one of her two children through Caesarian Section, CS, and the baby did not like to suck her breast.
“That baby today has been very outstanding academically. So I disagree that children who do not suck breast are easily susceptible to health issues and are not intelligent.
“Even at some maternity centres, some midwives and nurses would even secretly advise nursing mothers to give water to the babies to drink and also introduce other natural foods to them,” she claimed.
At a south-south/southeast workshop to flag off the breastfeeding week celebration, two officials of UNICEF, Dr Ijeoma Onuoha Ogwe, communications officer and Mrs Ngozi Onuora, nutrition specialist, who work for UNICEF field office in Enugu State, harped on importance and benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and zero water campaign.
They disclosed that the theme for 2023 World Breastfeeding Week is “Enabling breastfeeding: making a difference for working parents”.
The nutrition experts enumerated arrays of benefits derivable from exclusive breastfeeding, maintaining that the baby can hardly be attacked by ailments and the baby will be very intelligent.
“Early breastfeeding does prevent over 37 per cent of child deaths, and protects against ailments.
“Breast milk acts as the first immunization for new born babies, and helps, too, to cleanse both the mother and the child’s systems.”
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