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Why Exclusive Breastfeeding Of Newborns Is Important

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By Jackie Waithaka

In Sauti Sol’s song Nerea; there’s a line that goes like “Mungu akileta mtoto, anamleta na sahani yake” this line has been perceived differently. Beginning this month of August and for a full week (1st August to 7th August) the world marks World Breastfeeding Week. It would be appropriate if to say that the “Sahani ya mtoto” is the mother’s milk.

UNICEF and WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of an infant’s life. Breastfeeding is a baby’s first vaccine, boosting immunity against diseases.

On Chanuka Dada we met with Nurse Faith Njeru from Pumwani hospital who informed us on some of the benefits of breastfeeding, “Breast milk has proteins, vitamins and amino globulins, these elements are crucial in boosting the infant’s immunity.”

In as much breastfeeding is a natural process it doesn’t come as easy to all the mothers. Mama Mboga in Clay City, Kasarani, shared her experience raising her 9 month old daughter, “When I started breastfeeding, my nipples were really sore but my mother-in-law guided me on the proper way to breastfeed. The pain eventually subsided.”

“Breast feeding should not be painful to any mother. If at all a mother is experiencing cracked nipples or any pain, your attachment of the baby is the problem. The baby should suckle on the entire nipple not just the tip.” Said nurse Faith from Pumwani Hospital.

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Breastfeeding, and breast milk in particular, does not automatically occur in most mothers, there some who have little to zero milk while others have nothing but abundant overflow. She adds.

What does a mother need to boost lactation?

Nutritionist Samwel Otieno lists some of the eating habits that a new mother should embrace; “The first thing a mother should know is that you need to DRINK for 2 and EAT for 1 because 90% of breast milk is water. Therefore to boost milk production, one should take plenty of fluids: tea, plain water, milk, cocoa, chocolate drinks. Porridge is very important to the mother, pure wimbi porridge with freshly squeezed lemon instead of the common fermented sour flour for making porridge is the way to go. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid coffee, sodas and processed juices.”

Lack of support and/or emotional stress does affect a mother’s milk production. Nutritionist Samwel Otieno encourages husbands and relatives to help out in the house with the regular chores so that the mother has enough time to relax and concentrate on healing and nursing the youngling.

If all children were optimally breastfed until the age of two; 800,000 children’s lives could be saved every year. We should all play a part in raising a healthy generation through supporting breastfeeding mothers at home, in the workplace, and everywhere else.

 

That being said, it is worth noting that two in every five infants in Kenya are not exclusively fed on breast milk raising concerns over their growth and survival.

 

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