The Chief Nursing Sister, Roseline Oladimeji, has advised pregnant women to allow their husbands to suck their breasts to prepare them for breastfeeding after delivery.
Oladimeji gave the advice at a sensitisation programme marking the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week organised by Amuwo Odofin Maternal and Child Centre, Festac Town, Lagos, on Thursday.
“Allow your husband to suck your breasts during pregnancy. Apart from bonding, it will help the nipples to be out and make it easier for your baby to latch on.
“You can also rub vaseline on your nipples at night before going to sleep. It helps to soften it,” the nursing sister said.
She urged pregnant women to prepare their breasts during pregnancy to avoid lactation problems after delivery.
She added that the colostrum – the first form of milk produced by the mammary glands of mammals (including humans) immediately following delivery of the newborn – contains nutrients that help boost the baby’s immunity.
“It is still breast milk,” she said.
Oladimeji cautioned that certain food, herbs and medications could hurt babies if they cross into the breast milk.
She particularly noted that drinking palmwine to improve lactation could introduce alcohol into the baby’s system during breastfeeding.
Oladimeji further cautioned mothers seeking advice from people who are not qualified to take care of babies to avoid causing harm to their children.
Also, the hospital’s dietician, Ms Gbemisola Ogundipe, advised lactating mothers to ensure that they take balanced meals and lots of water to increase the volume and quality of their breast milk.
“A breastfeeding mother should have meat, fish, eggs and vegetables in her meals. She should also take a glass of juice or smoothies.
“She should increase her fluid intake and this can come in form of water, milk, yoghurt, ice cream and pap,” she said.
Ogundipe also cautioned women against weaning their babies before they get to one year because of the misconception that breast milk changes to blood when a child turns one year.
She said exclusive breastfeeding is not only beneficial to the babies but also to the mothers and their families, as it helps to take the mother to her pre-pregnancy weight and lessen financial pressure on families.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the 2021 WBW was, ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’.
NAN reports that the World Health Organisation and UNICEF say that though there had been progress in breastfeeding rates in the last four decades, the rates in Nigeria reduce with age.
In a joint statement issued by the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus; and the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, they stated that rate of exclusive breastfeeding rose from 17 per cent in 2013 to 29 per cent in 2018.
They, however, said that the percentage of children breastfed within one hour of birth in Nigeria estimated at 42 per cent is still less than 50 per cent.
“Breastfeeding rates in Nigeria reduced with age – 83 per cent of the children are breastfed up to one year while 28 per cent are breastfeeding till two years.
“It will show that the proportion of the children who are not breastfeeding increases with age,” it said.