Men should support women during pregnancy, breastfeeding –Commissioner

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Angela Onwuzoo

As the world celebrates the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has asked all men in the state to support their wives during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

According to the commissioner, the process of giving birth is a traumatic experience for both the mother and child and therefore, requires adequate support from husbands or partners.

Abayomi gave the charge during a press briefing in celebration of the week in the state, noting that breastmilk is everything that a child needs.

The theme for this year’s celebration is, “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.”

Celebrated in over 120 countries by the World Health Organisation and partners, the World Breastfeeding Week holds every year from 1st to 7th August. 

The aim, according to WHO is to encourage breastfeeding and consequently improve the health of babies around the world. 

The United Nations health agency says the week provides an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a child’s life. 

Harping on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding at the briefing supported by Save the Children International, Abayomi said men have a role to play for women to be able to practice exclusive breastfeeding and maximize its benefits.

The commissioner said, “It’s critically important for men in Lagos to support their wives during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“Mothers must not be stressed during breastfeeding and they should be provided good nutrition. Mothers should be patient while breastfeeding. It is best for the child that mothers breastfeed exclusively.  

“Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways of ensuring child health and survival.

“For the first two years of life, breast milk is the best.

“Any child, who is well-nurtured, will be balanced neurologically and psychologically and equipped to function effectively and contribute to national development when he grows up.”

According to WHO, breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese, and are less prone to diabetes later in life.

Abayomi said mothers, who were able to practice exclusive breastfeeding, had babies with a strong immune system, adding that reminding early initiation of breastfeeding is also important.

“We are here to create awareness and ensure that mothers understand the importance of early breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, and continuous breastfeeding for two years.

“We want mothers to understand the need for eating balanced diets so that the baby can get nutrients from breast milk”, the commissioner added.

He said the state was passionate about maternal and child welfare, adding that the state had established four new maternal and child care centres in four local government areas.

He pointed out that the state is moving into the era of preventive medicine to ensure citizens, especially the next generation of children, are healthy and equipped to function optimally.

The commissioner noted that the state had achieved 60 percent early initiation; 52 percent exclusive breastfeeding while 50 percent of mothers in the state were able to breastfeed their children for two years.

Besides the babies, the commissioner stressed that mothers also benefit a lot by practicing exclusive breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding causes the womb to contract and reduces bleeding after delivery,” he added.

According to the WHO, women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

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