Aisha Musa, a Pediatrician at Minna General Hospital, has stressed the importance of
first breast milk that comes out of a mother after giving birth, saying it is the best part of breast milk.
She said this at a symposium to commemorate the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) which is annually
marked from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 around the world.
Reports have it that the WBW, which has “Step Up Breastfeeding, Educate and Support”
as its theme for 2022 is a global campaign to raise awareness and galvanise action on themes related to breastfeeding.
NAN also reports that WBW started in 1992, with annual themes including healthcare systems, women and work,
education and human rights, among others.
Since 2016, WBW is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in 2018, a World Health Assembly (WHA)
resolution endorsed the week as an important breastfeeding promotion strategy.
The pediatrician, therefore, said during the event, organised by the Niger State Primary Health Care Development Agency
in collaboration with UNICEF, that nursing mothers should not deny babies the first breast milk immediately after delivery.
Musa explained that the first breast milk known as “colostrum”, yellowish in colour should be fed to a baby as it has nutrients’
concentration a child needs.
She said mothers should also breastfeed their babies after the first breast milk to enable the child access foremilk and hindmilk.
“Foremilk is the milk a baby takes at the beginning of feeding and hindmilk follows it. Typically, foremilk is mostly water combined
with other nutrients, and hindmilk is highly fatty. Both contain lactose that your baby needs to develop properly.
“Colostrum is the first yellow milk that comes out from a woman’s breast immediately after giving birth; colostrum contains
antibodies a child needs; it is the first immunisation a child gets in life.
“Any child that is not given the colostrum is easily exposed to disease, therefore, the habit of throwing away the first breastmilk
should be stopped in communities,” she said.
Musa also stressed the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the child’s survival and development, adding that the practice
is to protect the child from sickness and improve mother/child bonding.
In her remarks, Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, the Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, pledged the agency’s continuous collaboration
with Niger Government to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and other activities in the state.
She said “we have trained community volunteers who have been going from house to house to educate women on the need to embrace
Ezeife disclosed that UNICEF, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency and the State Primary Health Care Development Agency
would engage traditional and religious leaders to support women in their domains to breastfeed.
She added that the organisation would also help in improving capacity of health workers on how they could support mothers to embrace breastfeeding.
Asmau Abubakar, Nutrition Officer in the state, said the government partnered various organisations such as Accelerating Nutrition Results
Result in Nigeria project to improve nutrition among women.