Exclusive Breastfeeding - Pains, Pangs of Nigerian Career Mothers

Many Nigerian women are having to resign from their jobs or remain unpaid to achieve exclusive breastfeeding for their babies, writes Medinat Kanabe for the Premium Times.

WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recommend that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, to achieve optimal growth, development, and health. However, despite its numerous benefits, research by UNICEF shows that 70% of Nigerian children lack access to exclusive breastfeeding.

A 2019 study of maternity entitlements in Nigeria by the health ministry - in collaboration with UNICEF and Alive & Thrive, a global nutrition initiative - showed that the effective implementation of maternity entitlements is not consistent across the economic sectors. The study showed that predominantly in the informal sector, women do not benefit from maternal entitlements granted by law "largely because there is no institutionalised policy or guiding principle for these types of benefits."

The Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, in a statement to mark the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week, said the world must intensify efforts to promote exclusive breastfeeding. Ghebreyesus said as global crises continue to threaten the health and nutrition of millions of babies and children, the vital importance of breastfeeding as the best possible start in life is more critical than ever. He said lack of exclusive breastfeeding has resulted in high stunting rates of 37% of children under five, noting that only 9% of organisations globally, have a workable breastfeeding policy.

InFocus

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