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Report: Why We Don’t Embrace Exclusive Breastfeeding —Enugu LGA Nursing  Mothers

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – As the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding being championed by  various non governmental organizations, such as the United nations Children’s fund (UNICEF), continues, some nursing mothers in Enugu State, South East Nigeria, have given reasons why they are reluctant to embrace the practice.

African Examiner reports that UNICEF, has over the years be at the fore front of driving the campaign on exclusive breastfeeding and 0-6  Months non water practice.

Also, nutritionists and other experts believe strongly  that exclusive breastfeeding is highly beneficial to new born babies, as it protects them from all manner of diseases, as well as makes them more brilliant than those that didn’t enjoy it.

August 1-7 every year is observed as World Breastfeeding week, and this year’s Theme: is ‘Enabling Breastfeeding: making a difference for working parents’

Speaking with African Examiner in seperate interviews on the 2023 world celeberation, some Nursing mothers in Enugu North local government area of the state admitted that they are quite aware of the  benefits  in exclusively breastfeeding a new born child zero water  for six months, but do not practice it due to some reasons.

While some of the respondents said it is a wonderful, practice, others expressed reservation over it.

First to speak was a 29 year old wife and public servant, who identified her self as Mrs. Angela Eze, from Imo state.

She said: “i practice exclusive Breastfeeding and 0-6 Months non water administration, because I understand the importance. My mother was a retired Senior midwife, and she is the one that impacted that habit on me. I presently have three kids and all of them are products of Exclusive Breastfeeding and are doing well health wise” she stated.

“I can attest to the fact that if you practice it, you won’t have any regret or business taking your child to the hospital always, except you are going for routine immunization. So, I encourage other nursing mothers to embrace it for the good health of their babies and kids.

Another respondent, who works in a commercial bank, and spoke under condition of anonimity, said “for me, I don’t see anything wrong in practicing exclusive breastfeeding, but due to the nature of my job, i cannot embrace it.”

As a banker, you don’t expect me to be taking my baby to the office and breastfeed him or her when hungry comes during work ours, it’s not proper at all.

“Let’s take for instance, if am at the counter or cash  dispensing department, how will you feel as customer if I  say customers should hold on for some time, just  to enable me to go and breastfeed my baby in one corner before resuming again.

“So, in other to avoid such embarrasement  in your place of work, the best thing to do is to stay away from exclusive breastfeeding and go for the alternative.

“Like I said earlier, exclusive breastfeeding is a good thing, but circumstances makes many nursing mothers,  including me  to avoid it.”

Another Nursing mother, a 32 year old fruit seller and mother of two from Ebonyi State, who gave her name as Lucy Igwe and spoke in pigin English, said  she avoids exclusive breastfeeding so as not to allow her breast sag” saying if her breast sags it will make her husband to start looking outside and engage in infidelity.

“I don’t  want my breast to fall so that my husband wont start looking for those small small girls with standing breast  outside”

Another respondent,  Mrs. Jane , Nwabufo, a 33 year old mother of four and Civil servant  from Anambra State,  said she does not practice  exclusive breastfeeding based on Doctors advise which according to her, is purely on health ground.

“For instance, if a nursing mother falls sick, and she is diagnosed to be suffering from cancer related disease, will such mother continue to breastfeed his baby under such condition.?

“Many young nursing mothers don’t want their breast to sag that is why they don’t embrace exclusive Breastfeeding. I have friends who avoid it just for that simple reason.” she said.

Other respondents who also craved anonymity said  nursing  mothers should not be forced  to breastfeed their new born babies, saying such practice should be allowed to the parent to decide which way to go.

“I have seen babies that  did undergo exclusive Breastfeeding, but today, they are doing very well in school,  very smart school. That is why I don’t want to agree with doctors and nutritionist that children who do not suck breast are easily vulnerable to health challenges, I don’t think that is quite correct.

“Water is life, and very important in the life of a child, and nobody should deny babies that natural gift from God in the name of practicing science.” she stated.

Focal person on Exclusive Breastfeeding initiative in Enugu Council area, Mrs. Ann Njoku, told our Correspondent that despite the challenges being faced by the campaign, there are serious improvement, as many nursing mothers have beginning to embrace the practice, as a result of sensitization and enlightenment programmes being organized by the state Ministry of health with support from UNICEF.

“I must tell you that the number of nursing mothers practicing exclusive Breastfeeding in our local government area is improving when compared to what it used to be. We will keep on spreading the good massage”

“Some of them relies on what their mothers and grand mothers told them concerning alleged negative consequence of not giving a new born baby water within six months. But as health officers, we have always educated them, and will continue to do so”.

Some will tell you that their mothers and grand mothers told them that any baby that did not take water from birth is likely not to survive any sickness that comes his or her way.

Similarly, wife of  governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Nkechinyere Mbah, had recently made case for exclusive breastfeeding of babies, saying it would help the children grow healthy.

She spoke  during a visit to the maternity ward of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) Teaching Hospital, Park Lane, Enugu, on Tuesday where she gifted childcare items and cash to the nursing mothers and also cleared the medical bills of those, who have been in the hospital due to outstanding medical bills.

Mrs. Mbah, assured that the Governor Peter Mbah administration had already marshaled out plans to reform the health sector to make it more qualitative and affordable, adding that the governor had equally taken particular note of the need to improve quality of maternal, infant, and child healthcare in the state.

“Exclusive and extended breastfeeding is not easy, but it is something you have to do. Your baby deserves to be well breastfed. It boosts their immune system and I never really had the need to be taking children to the hospital, except for immunisation, because my babies were healthy. So, I can tell you from experience that breastfeeding really works. So I encourage you to breastfeed our babies. Forget about people that do about two or three months of breastfeeding”

In her remark, the Chief Nursing Officer, Post-Natal Ward, Rosemary Osuoji, ESUT Teaching Hospital said: “Besides the items and cash gifts to nursing mothers, the wife of the governor also attended to the postnatal mothers, who have been discharged several weeks ago, but could not afford hospital bills due to financial constraints. So, she settled their bills of about six of them and they are now free to go home”.

“Today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week. The emphasis is on exclusive breastfeeding to make sure that women that have just delivered implement the policy so that the immune systems of the babies will be well built and those new infants will be free from neonatal diseases and infection. That is the way to go.

On his part, the Chief Medical Director of ESUT Teaching Hospital, Dr. Hyacinth Onah, thanked the wife of the governor for her magnanimity and for her encouraging words to the nursing mothers, reiterating that exclusive breastfeeding makes the children healthier.

Speaking recently during a two day south-south/southeast workshop to flag off the breastfeeding week celebration, Dr Ijeoma Onuoha Ogwe, communications officer and Mrs Ngozi Onuora, nutrition specialist, both working at the Unicef field office in Enugu State, stressed the  for importance and benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and zero water campaign.

Mrs Onuoha listed several  benefits derivable from exclusive breastfeeding, maintaining that the baby can hardly be attacked by ailments and the baby will be very intelligent.

Accordingto her, “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.

Dr. Ogwe, enjoined the media to set agenda for public discourse on zero water campaign on exclusive breastfeeding practice.

She posited that every working nursing mother should enjoy six months of maternity leave with assurance of job security.

“Practicing breastfeeding at work makes societies work, as it provides vital health and nutritional benefits for children with positive lifelong impacts, building healthier populations and work forces for the future.

“Women should not have to choose between breastfeeding their children and their jobs because exclusive breastfeeding is possible regardless of workplace, sector or contract type.

Dr. Ogwe, insisted that “All women everywhere, no matter their work, should have at least six months paid maternity leave, paid time off for breastfeeding and flexible return to work options.”

The UNICEF Communications officer also agreed that effective maternity protection improves children’s and women’s health and increases breastfeeding practices.


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