By Angela Onwuzoo

As Nigeria joins the global community to mark the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week HealthWise delves into the difficulties women in Nigeria face to achieve exclusive breastfeeding by speaking with some mothers in Lagos. They share how they overcame challenges hindering the attainment of the gold standard of six months exclusive breastfeeding, ranging from poor institutional and family support, inadequate baby-friendly facilities, and lack of awareness, among others. ANGELA ONWUZOO reports



While some mothers see exclusive breastfeeding as a difficult exercise, to Hajia Sekinat Lawal, it is the best gift mothers can give to their children.

Sekinat, who exclusively breastfed her five children including a set of twins for six months, said with a supportive environment and determination, exclusive breastfeeding is less challenging.

According to her, a nursing mother should be encouraged by the gains her baby stands to get from exclusive breastfeeding rather than the discomfort she might go through during the exercise.

Sharing her experience with Healthwise, Sekinat who is a journalist said her husband’s support and her determination to give her children the best start in life made the practice an exciting experience for her despite the demanding nature of her job.

“When we talk about exclusive breastfeeding, it’s the best gift we can give to our children and this is simply because when we breastfeed babies exclusively, we would have given them the best start in life because their immune system will be top-notch.

No regular hospital visits for exclusively breastfed babies

“There won’t be a situation of several visits to hospitals for such children except to take immunisations.

“You will not have to deal with the story of having children that are falling sick now and then aside from minor things that may occasionally come up

“Apart from exclusive breastfeeding also giving us as mothers the best shape after birth, our health would also benefit from it. You will thank God that you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby because it has so many benefits, even though there will be challenges.

“For instance, when I was breastfeeding my twins, I exclusively breastfed them for six months but it wasn’t easy. When I am going to the office then when I resume my maternity leave, I will have to express the breast milk into two breastfeeding bottles for them. This I know will be enough for them before I return from work in the afternoon. Expressing breast milk is usually not a tea party. It’s a whole lot of sacrifice. It is not easy especially if you are a working mother.”

“But doing exclusive breastfeeding is the best decision. I did not regret doing it for my five kids and I am reaping the benefits now. I have four girls and a boy and among them is a set of twins. I didn’t regret doing exclusive breastfeeding for six months for all of them and they are all doing great,” she added.

The World Health Organisation recommends mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development, and health.

Thereafter, WHO said, babies should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

Celebrated on August 1-7 every year, World Breastfeeding Week is a global campaign to raise awareness and galvanise action on themes related to breastfeeding.

World Breastfeeding Week has been celebrated since 1992. It was established by the joint efforts of the WHO, UNICEF, and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.

The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2022 is “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”.

By joshua

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