August Is Breastfeeding Awareness Month

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"As per World Health Organization, if every child is breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding with other food up to the age of two years, about 220,000 child lives would be saved every year".

It has set a national target of 15% in exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Mothers can carry the pump and storage bag to their work place and pump there to keep up their milk supply. It also offers a quiet relaxed time for mother and baby to bond.

Research has found that babies who are breastfed have fewer health problems when they are older. A miniscule 0.6% increase in exclusively breastfed children was observed between 2007 and 2013, from 37.1% to 37.7%.

Aside children, Prof. Eregie said mothers also benefit from the process, as suckling a baby just an hour after birth kick starts the stimulation of hormones (Oxytocin) for the quick contraction of uterus which prevents "post partum hemorrhage" (bleeding) and "involution" (return of uterus to normal size after birth).

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Rahman called for creating social awareness about breastfeeding as many mothers still do not know importance of giving first breast milk to their children, depriving the newborn babies of having first breast milk which decreases the baby's diseases resistance ability. One of the steps to successful exclusive breastfeeding includes allowing mothers and infants remain together 24 hours a day. This is especially important as most establishments in Nigeria do not make any provisions for crèches where breastfeeding mothers can bring their babies so that the babies are close enough for the mothers to take breastfeeding breaks and breastfeed their infants.

Prof. Osawaru Oviawe, on his own part, stressed on maintaining the complete immunization doses for babies in addition to optimal breastfeeding up to six months, to build malaria antibodies as well as drive down asthma and eczema allergic reactions associated with milk substitutes. It also contains growth factors which help the intes- tine to mature and reduce intolerance.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General said breastfeeding gives children the best possible start in life. Sustained breastfeeding support, education, and consistent, accurate information will help to meet these goals. Breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, and ensures food security for babies, even in times of crises.

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