Helping nursing mothers’ have pleasant breastfeeding experiences
Breastfeeding is an activity that many young mothers look forward to after birthing their babies, however, not many are prepared for the challenges that come with it.
“I didn’t think so much about breastfeeding, I just know that it’s a phase I will pass through as a woman. All I had in mind was that when I get to the stage, I will cross it,” Bimbo Akinola, a mother of two said.
When Akinola welcomed her first child, she realised breastfeeding wasn’t a cakewalk as it is commonly portrayed.
“It was stressful and painful,” she confessed.
Over the years, breastfeeding is being portrayed as a walk in the park for young mothers but contrary to this opinion, many women have confessed that breastfeeding is hard, exhausting and can be overwhelming.
To encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world, this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, themed, “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding,” calls on all stakehoders, including governments and employers to adopt family-friendly policies that support breastfeeding.
According to the World Health Organisation, breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800 000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months.
It stated that breastfeeding decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and could avert 20 000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer.
But despite the benefits of breastfeeding, the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, noted that only 23.7 per cent of Nigerian women breastfed their children exclusively and 32.8 per cent breastfed their new born within one hour of birth.
The Survey also stated that 79.0 per cent of infants already received solid, semisolid or soft foods by age 6-8 months while 24.9 per cent of non-breastfed children age 6-23 months received at least 2 milk feedings.
“My breast milk did not flow for four days after delivery. I felt bad about it because my baby didn’t take the pap and milk she was given. She was only taking water,” Bukola Olanrewaju, a mother of one shared.
With the benefits of breastfeeding in mind, many women would have loved to breastfeed their babies according to WHO standard but the various challenges they encounter can be discouraging. While many start the process, only few are able to follow through for six months.
From the inability to lactate to lack of producing enough milk for the baby and many other issues, many women lack the requisite support to aid their breastfeeding experience.
For mothers with multiple children, no two breastfeeding experiences are the same.
“For my first son, I started lactating before I put to bed but for my second son, I didn’t lactate until the day after delivery,” Akinola revealed.
Noting that nursing mothers need support, Akinola revealed that breastfeeding can be exhausting as it connects with the brain.
“Having someone around to help with house chores will really go a long way. A nursing mother needs to take care of her mental health. She needs to rest and regain lost energy. Support from one’s spouse is necessary too. They know the best way to help their wives relax,” she said.
From the nurse at the hospital to the elderly women at home, nursing mothers need all the support they can get to enable them breastfeed their babies as they should.
For Seyi Fatoki, a new mum, breastfeeding is beyond seeing children suckle their mothers’ breasts. She explained that the activity can come with back pain, headache and sleepless nights as it is in her case.
She explained that nursing mothers are to be provided with the necessary foods they need to help lactation. Noting that there are women who can’t afford to feed well, she said that the government needs to step in by providing them with food.
“My friend in the US gets beverages and fruits from the government every month. Our government should emulate them to help the underprivileged,” she said.
Titilope Medunoye, a lactation consultant and the founder of Milky Express, said that, it takes the entire society to make exclusive breastfeeding possible.
“The entire community must learn to be baby-friendly. We must have more nurses who understand the nitty-gritty of breastfeeding. We need more offices to create mother-friendly rooms where mothers can express, and the government should extend our maternity periods.”
According to her, a woman may beat herself up over some breastfeeding difficulties if she is not aware of the things happening in her body.
By ‘Sola Abe