The Enugu State Government has urged nursing mothers and women to ensure the exclusive breastfeeding of every new born baby between the first one hour of delivery.
Dr George Ugwu, Executive Secretary of Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency (ENS-PHCDA), made the plea after a 10-Kilometre Road Show Awareness on Exclusive Breastfeeding within Enugu metropolis on Wednesday.
The road show is part of activities meant for the two weeks statewide massive campaign on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the baby, nursing mother and entire family.
Ugwu explained that the first breast milk from the mother to the newly born baby contains colostrum that provides the ‘first immunisation’ that helps fight diseases and make the baby healthy through adult life.
He noted that exclusive breastfeeding also helps the child in adulthood to be healthy and prevents such a person from diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke and even diabetes.
“We are emphasising on early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding especially in the first one hour after child birth and the super enormous benefits of that first exclusive breastfeeding for the child.
“It is at this first early and immediate contact of breast milk that the child sucks the vital colostrum that contains wholesome and natural immune ingredients, commonly known as ‘first immunisation’.
“This ‘first immunisation’ assists the child greatly to stay healthy, develop wholesomely and intelligently as well as be stronger later in life to even withstand adulthood diseases,” he said.
Ugwu said that exclusive breastfeeding, which is the right of every child for the first six months of life, goes without water; even though the breast milk has enough water for the baby.
He said that after exclusively breastfeeding for six months; the mother should mix the breast milk food with light adult foods for an onward of two years.
“For now, from all available research conducted, exclusive breastfeeding is the most natural and best for the baby in terms of his or her development and increases bonding between the child and mother.
“Exclusive breastfeeding also helps the mother’s body and reproductive system to heal fast and return to normal; thus, making her healthier.
“For the family, exclusive breastfeeding increases bonding, checks monetary wastages on canned or processed foods and helps the entire family eat more healthy and nutritious local foods,” he said.
He said that for over a week, the agency had embarked on breastfeeding massive advocacy visits to religious, community and opinion leaders, broad media awareness in the local language and health talks in health facilities, religious and public gatherings.
The executive secretary appreciated the health-loving Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his numerous support to the agency as well as the ongoing aggressive statewide exclusive breastfeeding campaign.
Speaking, Dr Chika Okoro, State Coordinator of World Health Organisation (WHO) for Enugu Field Office, urged Nigerians and the state residents to take the issue of exclusive breastfeeding seriously due to its numerous benefits.
Okoro said that apart from protecting the child at the cradle level, it helps the rapid development and intelligence of the child as he or she attains adulthood.
“Our people, especially older mothers, should stop the myth that first breast milk is bitter and ignorantly removes that ‘first immunisation’ of the child from a nursing mother’s breast particular the young and inexperienced ones.
“Giving the child that first breast milk within the first one hour of birth; pushes colostrum which is the anti-bodies from the mother to child and helps to fortify and aids his or her development in life.
“It saves the family money and stress of running to hospital as the child will keep being healthy, developing fast and intelligent as well as being stronger to meet other life challenges,” he added.
The two weeks exclusive breastfeeding campaign, which started on Aug. 1 and would end on Aug. 14, is themed: “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”.