Infants

EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING AND AFRICAN MOTHERS

A month ago, I worked with a data collection team assigned to some primary health centres. We were collecting data for research that aimed at determining how much mothers (nursing mothers especially) knew about exclusive breastfeeding. Before we go on you should know that exclusive breastfeeding is giving a baby only breast milk for the first 6 months of life.

During the fieldwork, I often heard statements like “What is that? Oh, do you mean giving a baby only breast for 6 months? I’ve heard that thing before but I can’t cope with the wahala (stress)” and so on. From data gathered at those PHCs, I would say that only about 5 out of 10 women really understand the concept of exclusive breastfeeding in this part of the country.

What is Exclusive Breastfeeding?

Exclusive Breastfeeding is a practice whereby a newborn is fed with only breast milk for the first 6 months of life with exception to prescribed vitamins, syrups or medications. This is WHO’s recommendations. The practice covers both direct breastfeed and milk expression into a bottle feeder.

Providing the baby with the necessary food for proper growth and development via breastfeeding is incomparable. The practice of exclusive breastfeeding makes this process effective. Exclusive Breastfeeding is also an important part of the reproductive cycle with benefits for mothers as we will see later.

The Practice of Exclusive Breastfeeding: The Ideal vs Reality.

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