Awka-Executive Secretary, Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHCDA), Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu says breastfeeding reduces risk of mothers developing breast, ovarian cancer and heart diseases.

Ezenyimulu, represented by Head of Department, Community Health Services, Dr Kanayo Onalu said this during a symposium on breastfeeding at De GeoGold Hotel, Awka.

Breastfeeding not only improves the health of babies but that of mothers too.

The ES added that ASPHCDA in collaboration with Alive and Thrive Organisation’ and other partners were working hard to promote family friendly policies to enable breastfeeding in the state.

This will include helping parents nurture and bond with their children in early life when it matters most.

Creation of awareness on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for six months and early initiation of breastfeeding, that is within one hour of child’s birth, she said.

According to her, breastfeeding is one of the best in global health to save lives, improve health, develop individual and promote economic development.

State Breastfeeding Coordinator, ASPHCDA, Mrs Joy Eberendu said the symposium was aimed at explaining the concept of breastfeeding as well as benefits associated with exclusive breastfeeding.

Others include, outlining factors that affect exclusive breastfeeding and roles of various individuals involved in sustaining exclusive breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is a natural act and learned behaviour that needs to be sustained.

Extensive body of research has demonstrated that mothers and other caregivers require active support for establishing and sustaining appropriate breastfeeding practices.

Breastfeeding helps parents save a lot of money, while it helps infants to develop their immune system.

She commended Alive and Thrive Partners for Development, for the support to encourage and promote exclusive breastfeeding in the state.

State Nutrition Officer, ASPHCDA, Mrs Uzoamaka Eriken noted that the decision to breastfeed was a personal matter, likely to draw strong opinions from friends and family.

Breastfeeding is not a one – woman job. Mothers need support from their husbands, family members, community, health workers and governments to give children the healthiest possible start in life.

As the world celebrates its breastfeeding week, we are provided with an opportunity to engage and sensitize all stakeholders on the importance of breast milk.

Also, to draw attention of the world on need for nursing mothers to lay a healthy foundation for their babies’ growth through exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, Eriken said.

Mrs Uju Onwuegbuzina, State Health Educator, ASPHCDA, encouraged mothers to prepare for breastfeeding even before delivery by maintaining adequate nutrition.

She also urged husbands to support and encourage their wives’ decision to breastfeed by allowing them adequate time and not interrupting the process of breastfeeding.

Healthcare providers should give correct, comprehensive and timely information on exclusive breastfeeding to mothers and guide them make decision to breastfeed as well as support their decision.

Alive and Thrive Zonal Coordinator, Mrs Gloria Eneh emphasised that breast milk contributed to child’s brain development, increased intelligence and lifelong productivity.

Myths about breastfeeding practices often pass from one generation to the next through the advice of family and community members, especially grandmothers and mothers-in-law.”

She urged healthcare providers to identify and correct any misconception about exclusive breastfeeding and support the baby friendly initiative, by educating women on the proper steps to successful breastfeeding.

Source: Anambra State Government