Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, said this at a symposium to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Week, entitled: “Step Up Breastfeeding Educate and Support’’ in Minna on Thursday.
She explained that UNICEF had supported the state on maternal infant and young child feeding practices at communities and exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
“After six months of exclusive breastfeeding, the mother will introduce appropriate complementary food for the child and still breastfeed the child for 24 months and beyond.
“This support is ongoing in 14 local government areas and we have trained community volunteers who have been going house-to-house to explain these practices to them,” she said.
Ezeife noted that UNICEF in collaboration with National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the state Primary HealthCare Development Agency would embark on community dialogue with traditional and religious leaders on their roles to support women to breastfeed.
She added that the organisation would partner the state primary healthcare development agency to improve capacity of health workers on how they could support mothers to embrace breastfeeding.
Earlier in her presentation on importance of breastfeeding, Dr Aisha Musa, a paediatrician at the Minna General Hospital, urged nursing mothers not to deny their babies from sucking the first breast milk immediately after childbirth.
Musa explained that the first breast milk known as colostrum, yellowish in colour should be fed to a baby as it had nutrient concentration a child needed.
She advised it should not be thrown away as it was being practised in some communities.
Musa added that mothers should also breastfeed their babies after the first breast milk to enable the child to access foremilk and hind milk.
“Colostrum is the first yellow milk that comes out from a woman’s breast immediately after childbirth.
“This colostrum contains antibodies a child needs as nutrient at that time; it is the first immunisation a child gets in life.
“Any child that is not given the colostrum is easily exposed to any outbreak of disease, therefore, the habit of throwing away the first breast milk should be stopped in communities,” she said.
She also emphasised the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the child’s survival and development.
She said that exclusive breastfeeding protected the child from falling sick as well improved mothers and child’s bonding.
In her remarks, Asmau Abubakar, Nutrition Officer, Niger, said the state government had partnered various organisations such as Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria project to improve nutrition among women.