8 August 2017

Nigeria: Allow Babies to Enjoy Breastfeeding, Commissioner Tells Fathers

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Bati Mutua, 19, delivered her son, Felix, at Alice Health Services. The staff taught her how to breastfeed and care for her son, she says. Clinic director, Alice Githae, recommends breastfeeding infants for the first six months.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Steve Ayorinde, has urged fathers not to compete for space with their babies during the period of breastfeeding.

Ayorinde gave the advice in a message to the Lagos Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) as it held a Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign and a 5 km Health Walk in Ikeja.

The commissioner, represented by Mrs Toro Oladapo, a former NAWOJ President and the Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Information, urged fathers to leave the breast for the babies during the period.

He said that fathers should support the mothers to properly breastfeed new born babies, describing exclusive breastfeeding as vital during the first six months of life.

According to him, breastfeeding should be encouraged till the baby reaches two years for healthy child development.

Ayorinde told the female journalists to continue the advocacy for a healthy nation.

"Nothing is natural like breast milk," he said, noting that human milk is better for babies than animal milk.

"Thank you so much for promoting the essence of womanhood," he said.

The commissioner emphasised the agenda-setting role of the media in promoting the right attitude toward healthy child development and urged NAWOJ not to relent in its efforts.

"The media should help ensure mothers are breastfeeding to raise a healthy nation.

"You will all agree with me that children that are breastfed distinguish themselves academically," he said.

The commissioner said that women, in the past, used breastfeeding for child-spacing and family planning, urging NAWOJ to spread the awareness.

The Chairperson, Lagos Chapter of the NAWOJ, Alhaja Sekinat Lawal, appealed to all tiers of government to implement policies that encourage breastfeeding for healthy child development and speedy economic growth.

She condemned violence against women, pointing out that violence could affect the flow of milk to new-born babies.

Lawal told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the fitness walk was aimed at keeping journalists healthy.

"We are trying to inculcate the habit of exercise in our members," she said.

Lawal said that journalists were always busy people who had a tendency to forget their health, hence, the walk was organised as part of activities of the breastfeeding week.

She explained that the association during the walk also educated women on the importance of breastfeeding.

According to her, breastfed children can facilitate economic development because of their intelligence.

"For the week, we are encouraging mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of life.

"We are also carrying out advocacy against domestic violence for people to speak out," she told NAN.

Mrs Tosin Odusola, the immediate past National Treasurer of NAWOJ, said that the 2017 programme was important because it captured advocacy for peaceful environment to promote breastfeeding.

Odusola, a Health journalist, told NAN that domestic violence could lead to stress and affect the flow of breast milk to newborns.

She urged female journalists to champion the campaign for nationwide advocacy against domestic violence, which hampers healthy child development.

"There should also be male involvement in breastfeeding because an emotionally stable woman would produce more milk," she said.

Mrs Barbara Negbejie of the Federal Ministry of Information Chapel of the NAWOJ lauded the fitness exercise as part of recreational activities of the union.

"I have always looked forward to this moment to burn off excess fat," she said.

Miss Eunice Olile of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria told NAN that the awareness for breastfeeding and fitness should always be on the front burner.

Olile said that career women had a tendency to neglect breastfeeding and fitness exercises due to pressure of work and other family demands.

"Mothers neglect their children and give them to caregivers, giving more attention to their work.

"With breast milk, children grow well," she said.

NAN reports that the association also paid a visit to the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

The Executives of the Lagos Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), represented by its Treasurer, Mrs Kehinde Ajayi and Mr Alfred Odifa, the Assistant Secretary, participated in the walk alongside Mr Adeleye Ajayi of NAN, a chairmanship aspirant in the forthcoming NUJ elections.



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