Having a child is like a journey, one can never tell or predict the challenges to be encountered especially as every pregnancy is a unique experience. However, despite the journey, every mother is eventually faced with the decision of “breast feed or not.” Breast feeding is a health care intervention where a mother nurses her child with milk from her breast. Research also shows how effective breastfeeding is with emphasizes on optimal breastfeeding practice, how it saves lives and decreases mortality rate for both mother and child. Optimal breastfeeding practice is when a baby is exclusively breast fed for six months, that is no water, juice or solid food until after six months when these could be introduced and supplemented with breast milk till the baby is one year. When supplementing breast milk with other foods, it is very important for the baby’s diet to be balanced as prolonged breastfeeding without other necessary nutrition could lead to stunted growth in children. WHO and UNICEF recommend that: Breastfeeding should be introduced within the first hour of the baby’s life. They also recommended that the infant should be breast fed exclusively without any additional food or drink even water and breastfeeding should be as often as the child wants it, day and night. In addition, there should be no use of bottles, pacifier and teats, the contact should be from the breast to the baby’s mouth.
In 2018 experts revealed that less than 25% of Nigerian children are breastfed exclusively, which is a very disturbing statistic as an estimate of 823,000 child’s death could be prevented if exclusive breast feeding could be adopted. Child care is a very important and sensitive aspect of health care especially the stage of infancy because with a very low immune system, babies are faced with so many types of diseases and infections that could claim their lives. Breast milk hold a lot of benefits for babies. Being the natural first food, it provides the baby with energy and nutrients needed for life for the first month of life and even up to the first year or two of the baby’s life. Breast milk contains Colostrum, a liquid that is rich in antibodies that supports a baby’s immune system. Breast milk also promotes sensory and cognitive development and fights against infections and diseases such as diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia which could kill.
Other benefits of breast feeding include but not limited to reduced risk of high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer in the baby. It is also easy, cost effective and gives room for a mother-child bonding. Breastfeeding is also suggested by researchers to help with postpartum depression, improve mental health and reduce the risk of breast cancer in mothers. Despite all these benefits, breast feeding has certain cons such as loss of body autonomy. Breast feeding mothers may feel they cannot go to places they want to because of their baby, or diet to keep in shape. They will also experience full breasts licking milk whenever the baby does not want to suck and the use of pumping machine to extract could be painful. Exclusive breastfeeding also means the mother has to constantly be with the baby which suggest that it would affect her career. In addition, some mothers cannot breast feed their child due to certain illnesses that are communicable.
Regardless, the pros of breast feeding overweigh the cons and it is advisable for mothers to give their children the best they could by breast feeding. The benefits of Breast feeding to both mother and child cannot be over looked that is why UNICEF empower women to combine work with breastfeeding, by working with national government in making the world a friendlier place for all mothers, one step at a time.
Lydia F. (2019). Breastfeeding: Support, challenges and benefits/ pediatric collection. http://www.aappublications.org/breastfeeding-pc (Accessed 27 July, 2019)
health Organization (2019). Maternity newborn and adolescent health https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/child/nutrition/breastfeeding/en/ (Accessed 27 July,2019)
Zawn V. (2018). What are the pros and cons of breastfeeding? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/article/322819.php (Accessed 27 July, 2019)