AS the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding gains momentum in Nigeria, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more mothers are embracing the art for the health and economic benefits of mothers and their babies.
Mrs Aisha Yakubu, a civil servant, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday that “two years is the adequate and ideal period for breastfeeding a child.’’
Yakubu affirmed her commitment to proper breastfeeding for the benefit of both child and mother.
She urged mothers to take time off their busy schedule to do six months of exclusive breastfeeding and later introduce complementary food.
Yakubu said proper breastfeeding help children to gain appropriate nutrients, important antibodies, healthy weight, reduce disease risk and make them smarter.
She said adequate breastfeeding of children helps the mothers reduce depression, may prevent menstruation, save money and helps the uterus contract back to pre-pregnancy size.
Mrs Olufunke Mayowa, a fulltime housewife, says breastfeeding helps her to connect with her baby.
Mayowa also told NAN that breastfeeding makes her feel fulfilled and help the baby’s immune system to fight any disease.
“Breastfeeding helps in the development of the child and reduces the risk of breast cancer,’’ she said.
She also advised mothers to breastfeed their children for two years and above.
“If I can do it, all women should be able to do it,” Mayowa said.
A businesswoman, Mrs Annika Okie, said proper breastfeeding strengthens the baby’s immune system; thereby helping with life-threatening illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhoea, among others.
Okie said that a child that is not well breastfed is open to low immune system, bacterial meningitis, ear infection, sudden infant death syndrome, colds and respiratory illnesses, among others.
“Breastfeeding helps children for a lifetime, they are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and heart disease in adulthood,” she told NAN.
On her part, Mrs Tinu Jimoh, also a mother, said breastfeeding produces natural hormones called oxytocin and prolactin that promote stress reduction and positive feelings.
She said it gives babies calmness and gains the right temperature, it also helps mothers reduce the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, among others.
A first-time mother, Mrs Hafsat Hassan, said her ante-natal visits have made her see the importance of proper breastfeeding and the cost of doing it the wrong way.
She said that she wants to keep her shape by properly breastfeeding her baby and going for exercises.
Hassan also encouraged women to embrace breastfeeding as it benefits to mother and child.
NAN reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the practice of two years or beyond breastfeeding.
Exclusive breastfeeding, which lasts for six months, and is described as the best part of breastfeeding by paediatricians; helps in family planning by slowing the return of ovulation.
UNICEF and medical experts are also of the opinion that children exclusively breastfed tend to be healthier and more intelligent than others.