Dr Adaugo Onyedinma, a Consultant Paediatrician with Samaria Hospital, Ago-Lagos, on Sunday called on government to create enclosed space in public places to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.
Onyedinma, whose special interest is in newborn health and infant nutrition, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
“Government should create an enclosed space which can be called breastfeeding booths in public places where mothers can go in and have some privacy while breastfeeding outside the home.
“There should also be some public awareness campaigns to encourage the society to accept breastfeeding in public as a norm,’’ Onyedinma said.
The expert noted that lack of privacy in public had been a hindrance to nursing mothers breastfeeding their new born babies outside the home.
According to her, some mothers feel uncomfortable exposing their breasts in public.
The World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every Aug.1 to Aug.7, to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policy makers, WHO, UNICEF and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding within one hour after birth and until a baby is six months old.
The organisation said nutritious complementary foods should be added while mothers continue to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.
Onyedinma said nursing mothers needed constant counseling and encouragement, especially from their spouse and other stakeholders, on the need to exclusively breastfeed their babies at all times.
The paediatrician noted that the type of clothes some mothers wore hindered breastfeeding, adding it did not allow their babies gain access to the breast.
She also said some nursing mothers lacked enough breast milk supply due to work stress they experienced.
Onyedinma said there was need for first time mothers to fully understand the benefits of breastfeeding, adding that lack of knowledge contributed to their poor attitude toward breastfeeding
She also said that myths and preconceptions negatively influenced the practice of exclusive breastfeeding.
The medical practitioner said such myths and preconception were that breastfeeding caused sagging of breasts and that breast milk was not enough for a baby.
The erroneous belief, she added, gave rise to supplement with water and infant formula before 6 months.
The paediatrician said whether a mother breastfed her newborn or not, age would eventually cause the breast to sag.
Onyedinma, however, advised mothers to eat healthy to be able to exclusively breastfeed their babies and also live a healthy life style to avoid maternal ill-health and death.