Women's Month: Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed regardless of HIV status

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Breastfeeding helps the baby's physical and intellectual development, protects mother's health by helping early involution of the uterus, reduces postpartum bleeding, and thereby prevents anaemia, along with many other ailments. With no additional burden on household income, breastfeeding is a low-priced way of feeding babies and contributes to poverty reduction.

"Breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months after birth and should not be replaced by formula milk, juice or water".

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Enumerating on this to participants and health personnel at the world breastfeeding week symposium, with theme, "Breastfeeding: Foundation of life" organized by the Institute of Child Health (ICH), UNIBEN/UBTH, in collaboration with Department of worldwide and Global Studies, Mercer University, USA, Professor Eregie observed that it was a technical misnomer to refer to some entities as breast milk substitutes, as alternative food, for feeding babies.

"Breastfeeding children within an hour of their birth allows them access to colostrum, the first of breast milk that is rich in antibodies".

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According to the World Health Organisation, mothers are supposed to exclusively breastfeed their children for six months before enrolling them on other foods. The bank has been supplying milk for babies in the city, both in the private and government hospitals, for ten months now.

Breastfeeding is providing optimal nutrition and reducing the risk of disease later. Cone Health Women's Hospital and Alamance Regional Medical Center have established several classes and support groups to give expectant mothers tips and tools on how to get breastfeeding off to a great start and continue the process successfully. "They also need a breastfeeding plan".

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We also need to realise that bottle feeding has become so normalised that many women seeking to breastfeed are missing out. To boost exclusive breastfeeding, the Global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative, led by UNICEF and World Health Organization in collaboration with worldwide partners, are providing leadership to improve breastfeeding rates. It is important to note there are circumstances that make it challenging or not possible to breastfeed. Supportive healthcare systems, adequate maternity leave entitlements, workplace interventions, counselling and educational programmes can all help to improve breastfeeding rates. It prevents hunger, malnutrition, and ensures food security for the child.

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