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Nigeria celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

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By Abiodun Okunloye

A good working environment should be provided for nursing mothers.

From August 1st-7th, 2023, Nigeria will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with the rest of the globe with the theme “Enable Breastfeeding, Making a Difference for Working Parents.” The week is an annual international event that spotlights the positive effects on the health and wellness of infants, children, mothers, and families, as well as the community. In Nigeria, only 29% of children under 6 months old were found to be completely breastfed, and only 42% attempted this during the first hour after delivery, according to a statement released by the National Food and Nutrition Median Team, NFNMT.

All members of the public are therefore encouraged to make it easier for working parents to feed their children this way. It places an emphasis on breastfeeding as well as work or employment. According to the statement, the theme for this year encourages more people to become aware of the support that is available for it in the workplace. It is recommended that the coverage of nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific initiatives among the population being targeted should be at least 80 percent or higher in order to achieve a higher impact on the decrease of malnutrition-related issues like stunting.

Mothers experience difficulties coping with work and nursing child.

The statement added that the known recognised difficulties that impede breastfeeding of newborns in the nation include insufficient understanding among mothers on the advantages of breastmilk; misconceptions that surround it; early work resumption after childbirth; absence of a favourable environment, particularly for working mothers; strong advertising of alternatives, among other things. The right to breastfeed belongs to the mother as well as the child. It might be difficult for mothers who work in Nigeria to meet the demands of their work without sacrificing their desire to breastfeed.

In addition to having to work outside the home, most Nigerian women are also expected to care for their household by performing time-consuming and tedious tasks such as cooking and laundry. Furthermore, they are obligated to feed their children. This year, they’re concentrating on how best to assist these mothers in achieving effective breastfeeding for the benefit of the nation as a whole. This practice should begin within an hour of birth, continue exclusively for the first six months, and be maintained for at least two years, with the inclusion of appropriate complementary foods beginning at six months, as the Federal Ministry of Health recommended.

Weeks of maternity leave are available for mothers at the workplace.

According to the ministry, working environments should be provided to encourage nursing because doing so will increase mothers’ productivity while ensuring that they will continue to play a nurturing role in their children’s lives. Currently, women working in the federal civil service are eligible for a maternity leave benefit of 16 weeks that is paid, and once they return to work, they are granted two hours off per day to breastfeed babies for the first six months. Paternity leave of up to 14 days has been made available to male employees of the Civil Service recently.

Moreover, mothers who work in the private sector are eligible for 12 weeks of leave during childbirth under the Labour Act. They are eligible for half pay if they have been with the company for six months. Nursing is beneficial for both the mother and child. Thus, it is only fitting that it has the full backing of the father, the family, and the wider society. Breast milk strengthens the infant’s immunity and is highly nourishing. Babies are also shielded from the likes of pneumonia and diarrhoea. Furthermore, the mother-child connection formed through breastfeeding is crucial to the child’s emotional and social growth.

It protects the infant against numerous common childhood illnesses.

Lastly, the public is reminded that breast milk is superior to other infant feeding options because it is excellent in every way: it is accessible, affordable, safe, hygienic, and provides the infant with the first line of protection against numerous common childhood illnesses. For the first few months of life, it is the sole source of sustenance, and it continues to provide the nutritional demands of infants for up to half of the first year as well as up to a third of the second year. As a result, everyone needs to do their part by encouraging breastfeeding mothers. Helping people improve the health of the country, the economy, and the future workforce.

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