Essentials of infant breast feeding

Adequate breastfeeding key to tomorrow’s quality leaders—Dr Ononye

In celebrating August 1 -7 as 2020 World Breastfeeding Week with a  theme “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet,” Delta Health Commissioner, Dr Mordi Ononye, says, in this piece, that adequate breast feeding is key to producing quality tomorrow’s leaders


I am moved to speak to all Deltans on the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week that starts today 1st August to 7th August 2020 on the theme “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet”.

The week’s celebration is important because it comes at a time when the World is grappling with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is taking its toll on the Global Population.

The Delta Government, together with Partner Agencies and the uncommon dedication of our Health Workers, are winning this battling for us. We have lost beloved ones though; we hope it will be over soon. A new day with a promising dawn of better health and improved welfare is around the corner. This we must embrace and forge on as life can offer.

2. Let us remember that in our survival instinct, the most vulnerable population, especially women and children deserve attention and a high priority given to them in the distribution of resources. The World Breastfeeding Week reminds us of the need to promote, protect and support breastfeeding practices so as to develop the young (our leaders of tomorrow) adequately for a better and productive adulthood.

3.  Breastfeeding should be initiated as early as the first hour of birth and continued to the second year of life.

The early initiation of unrestricted Exclusive Breastfeeding results in ample milk production to sustain the infants and leads to 87% preventable deaths in infants younger than 6 months. It also ensures quicker recovery from Childhood illnesses.

During breastfeeding, bonding is established between the baby and mother creating a healthy psycho-social relationship in the family: security and wellbeing for all. Its benefits are enormous.

To the child, it provides:

i.    Food that is adequate in energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and water for a healthy growth and development. Breastfeeding helps in the cognitive development of children, meaning they do better in school and longer breastfeeding durations are associated with higher scores on intelligence tests.

ii.    Immunity through the transfer of maternal antibodies that protects the child from common ailments like diarrhoea and vomiting, respiratory tract infection etc.

iii.    It reduces disease risk to the child when done exclusively in the first six months of life- no feeding bottles, no pacifiers and no water.

To the mother:

i.    It stimulates uterine contraction resulting in the prevention of Post-Partum Haemorrhage.

ii.    It promotes uterine involution.

iii.    Lowers the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

To the family:

i.    It enhances the natural family planning by pausing ovulation and menstruation. This promotes child spacing.

ii.    It is economical and saves finances from avoidable expenses.

iii.    It promotes family bonding.

To the community and nation:

i.    It provides the opportunity for a healthy grooming of the young that will transform into a healthy and productive adult.

ii.    It enhances a cleaner, eco-friendly, environment by reducing the generation and dumping of artificial/processed breastmilk substitute containers/packages.

iii.    In the face of COVID-19 disease, it keeps mother and baby together thereby preventing avoidable exposure to strangers.

4. Delta State adapted “The National Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding which describes Exclusive Breastfeeding as giving infants only breast milk in the first six months of life; no other liquids, drinks, semi-solids or solids, and not even-water except oral rehydration solution or drops/ syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines as prescribed by the physician.

Thereafter, infants should receive nutritionally, adequate and safe complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond to meet their evolving nutritional requirements.”

5. The Statistics from the Multiple Indicators Custer Survey (MICS 2017) showed that Nigeria had 97% Breastfeeding rate for all nursing mothers and an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 25% (less than the 2025 Global target of 50%) for the first six months of child birth.

Delta State breastfeeding rates for children 0-23 month of age were

i.    94% for ever being breastfed.

ii.    49% for being breastfed within the first hour birth.

iii.    80% for being breastfed within the first day of birth. (National Nutrition and Health Survey-NNHS 2018).

The State’s 49% breastfeeding rate within the first hour of birth is still lower than the 2025 Global Target of 50%. It requires the doubling of efforts.

6. “WHO’s Member States that endorsed the Global targets for improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition are committed to monitoring progress. The targets are vital for identifying priority areas for action and catalyzing global change.”

The Global Nutrition targets 2025 are:

i.    Stunting

TARGET: 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted

ii.    Anaemia

TARGET: 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age

iii.    Low birth weight


30% reduction in low birth weight rate

iv.    Childhood overweight


No increase in childhood overweight

v.    Breastfeeding

TARGET: Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%. Delta State targets 80% in the first instance.

vi.    Wasting

TARGET: Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%

7.    While the Breastfeeding Week runs from 1st to 7th August, 2020, we are encouraged to promote breastfeeding all of the time. Institutions, organizations, families and individuals are enjoined to implement the breastfeeding policy adapted by the Delta State Government in line with the global guidelines.

8.    The State Government through the Primary Health Care Development Agency in collaboration with Partner Agencies has commenced the establishment of Breastfeeding Support Groups in the LGAs and Wards.

9.    This is to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling. I therefore implore women including nursing mothers and care givers to advantage of this initiative of the State Government.

10.    I hereby congratulate all Deltans and as we celebrate the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week, Let us “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet”.

11.    Thank you and God Bless.

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