World Breastfeeding Week: Nine myths about breastfeeding

A woman breastfeeding her child. [PHOTO CREDIT: Mama Glow]

Becoming a parent is a thing of joy, especially in Africa. Motherhood irrespective of the number of times a woman has put to bed is a life-altering gift and an immense responsibility.

This is because each delivery comes with its peculiar experience.

This week, as countries around the world celebrates World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF and WHO have called on governments and employers to adopt family-friendly policies that support breastfeeding.

The UN agencies said family-friendly policies- such as paid parental leave – enable breastfeeding and help parents nurture and bond with their children in early life when it matters most.

“The evidence is clear that during early childhood, the optimal nutrition provided by breastfeeding, along with nurturing care and stimulation, can strengthen children’s brain development with impacts that endure over a lifetime.”

Exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and continued breastfeeding until age two or longer can boost children’s immune system, shield them from disease, and provide protection from noncommunicable diseases later in life.

Breastfeeding also protects maternal health — women who breastfeed reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Here are some myths about breastfeeding:

1 Breastfeeding is easy: Breastfeeding is not an easy feat. Breastfeeding takes time and practice for both mothers and babies. Breastfeeding is also time-intensive, so mothers need space, support and rest at home and work.

Although babies will naturally look for their mother’s breasts, many mothers need practical support with positioning the babies for breastfeeding. This is to make sure that the babies are correctly attached to the breast.

2. Mothers need to wash their nipples before breastfeeding: There is no need for mothers to wash their nipples before breastfeeding. The nipples produce a substance that the babies smell and have good bacteria that can help build the baby’s immune system.

3. Babies should be separated from mothers at birth: This is wrong. Doctors, nurses or midwives should always encourage the practice of skin to skin for mothers and babies immediately after birth. The mother should also as soon as possible with an hour of birth breastfeed the baby.

The first milk produced by the mother is very important and must not be pressed away. The first milk or colostrum is rich in antibodies and gives new-born immunity boost while their immune system is still developing.


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