November 29, 2023

Celebrating Excellence & Integrity


‘Delaying breastfeeding within first 23hrs dangerous for babies’

• UNICEF urges Nigeria to implement family-friendly workplace policy

Delaying breastfeeding a baby between the first two to 23 hours of birth increases the chance of newborn mortality by 40 per cent, Nutrition Specialist with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Philomena Irene, has said.

She stated this at a media dialogue organised in Azare, Bauchi State, by the Fund to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, with the theme, ‘Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a difference for Working Parents’.

According to her, exclusive breastfeeding has the potential to save more children’s lives than any other preventive intervention. “Breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children, and an exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child. An estimated 13 per cent of child deaths could be averted, if 90 per cent of mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life.

“Delaying breastfeeding by two to 23 hours after birth increases the risk of a baby dying in the first 28 days of life by 40 per cent,” said. Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed, said breastfeeding is essential, available and economical to use for child growth. He hinted that a bill is underway in the House of Assembly to impose the creation of creches and upward review of maternity leave.

He urged lactating mothers not to panic when hiccups occur in babies, saying it is a process of stomach enlargement. He advised them not to give water at such occasions.

MEANWHILE, UNICEF has urged Nigeria to adopt family-friendly workplace policies such as paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks and a room where mothers can breastfeed or express milk, to enable working mothers to effectively breastfeed.

According to the United Nations agency, these approaches will yield economic returns by reducing maternity-related absenteeism, increasing the retention of female workers, and reducing the cost of hiring and training new staff.

UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Dr. Tushar Rane, who made the call at the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week Media Dialogue, stressed the need to promote policies that encourage breastfeeding, such as six months paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave, flexible return-to-work options, regular lactation breaks during working hours and adequate facilities that enable mothers to continue exclusive breastfeeding for six months.

He added that when working parents and caregivers have sufficient paid leave, they could meet the essential nutritional needs of their children. Chairman, House Committee on Health in Bauchi, Dr. Lawal Dauda, explained that the state “has a law” for three months maternity leave for breastfeeding mothers, but wants it reviewed to six months as approved by the Federal Government.

The Laurels International Magazine


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