Breastfeeding has never been taken as an important issue in many nations. Though in Tanzania, emphasis has been put on breastfeeding by various health facilities, some people are still not aware of the importance of this exercise. Most people think that the moment a mother resumes work after maternity leave, the baby can survive on cow’s milk or solid foods. So on this breastfeeding week worldwide, it is about time we start discussing about breastfeeding and ensuring that it gets all the attention it deserves.
Did you know that 820,000 child deaths could be prevented annually (about 13 per cent of all under-five child deaths globally) by improving breastfeeding rates? Breastfeeding could be one of the unique intervention in maternal and child mortality to create a healthier society. Though the Tanzanian Government tries to ensure babies are exclusively breastfed for six months by allowing nursing mothers to work half day, some employers still don’t adhere since the workload these mothers do remain the same not allowing them time to go and breastfeed. And for those who strive to pump, there is no safe place to pump and store the breastmilk. It is good to highlight that babies should exclusively breastfeed for six months. This is because the breast milk alone is sufficient to help them grow and meet their development milestones. It is also laden with antibodies which help protect the babies from disease thus boosts their immunity. Breastmilk is loaded with vital nutrients and is easy to digest. It is also very convenient since no preparation is needed. For those career women out there, I know it can be hard to get time to breastfeed. The good news is that you could ensure that the baby gets enough milk while you are at home and pump or express some and store safely for the baby to take while you are at work. It is best stored in a freezer but for those without electricity, you can stand your container of breastmilk in a dish of cold water in a cool area in the room and ensure it is consumed within 24 hours. There is also an aspect of nutrition; nursing mothers could talk to their healthcare providers to guide them through proper nutrition to boost milk supply during this period. And to the government and all stakeholders, let’s join hands to support nursing mothers by providing breastfeeding stations in various public places and at work as it has an effect on the health of women and children. This would have a positive impact on the economy. Happy breastfeeding week to all nursing mothers.