The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) has canvassed six months exclusive breast-feeding for infants in the country.
The body, which rallied other career women from all walks of life said doing so will help in the development of sound and complete children.
An advocacy walk organized by NAWOJ and co-sponsored by Mr. Rotimi Ojomoyela, immediate past Chairman of the Ekiti State Correspondents' chapel saw members of the Association of Nurses and Mid-wives, National Council of Women Societies, women wings of Nigeria Labour Congress and Nigeria Union of Teachers, Federation of International Women Lawyers)(FIDA), Correspondents' chapel, Peace Corps and others lending their supports.
The participants, who converged at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti state councii marched through the state capital, Ado Ekiti to sensitize nursing mothers and the general public in market places and motor-parks on the need to prioritize exclusive breast feeding .
Speaking on the campaign, NAWOJ Chairperson in Ekiti State, Oluwayomi Osuntokun, said: "As a society comprising mainly women, we owe it a duty to sensitize our women on the importance of breastfeeding, not only to the children, but also to the mothers for whom it prevents cancer when they regularly breast feed their babies.
"We also appeal to our various governments and private institutions to let it be of paramount importance to them to provide crèches around their offices for the benefit of nursing mothers, so that they can
have the opportunity of breast-feeding their babies regularly and also work at least for the very six months".
Explaining his involvement in the campaign, Ojomoyela, said: "Sometimes ago, I was going through some whatsapp messages of women journalists in Africa and found out that they initiated this campaign
and I felt we can also do same here in Ekiti. That was why I sold the idea to NAWOJ chapter of Ekiti. We have been able to raise resources for this.
"I also got the inspiration from my interaction with some UNICEF officials who made me to realize that recent findings have shown that when a child is exclusively breastfed for the first six months of its
life, such a child would have very good immunity, high intelligence quotient, and would have such a great bond with its mother which would prevent it from the tendency of becoming a social deviant later in life."
Speaking on the importance of exclusive breast-feeding, Mrs. Bamigbe Theresa Olaitan, who is the Principal of the School of Nursing, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, said: "One of the advantages of the exercise is prevention of infections which is normally contacted during the preparation of formula foods. So, at this campaign, we have told mothers that exclusive breast-feeding for their children for the first six months is mandatory.
"This is because it is good for their growth, brain development, prevents infections and improves child-mother bonding. We have also told mothers who complain that they don't have milk in their breasts that it may be due to the fact that they are not eating and living right. All mothers have milk in their breast that is full and sufficient for their babies as every nursing mother has the hormone that signals to the brain to produce milk for the breast.
"The mothers should improve on their food intake and fluid. The money they are using to buy formula foods should rather be used to buy good food to eat. They should eat proteniuos food, pounded yam with a lot of vegetables, locust beans, they don't have to eat meat a lot. They also need to rest very well so that they would be relaxed enough to have more secretion of breasts milk.
Mothers should always give the child breast milk anytime the child asks for it, because the milk is easily digestible and that is why the child would always come for it from time to time. The best thing a mother could do for their children is to give them exclusive breast feeding for the very six months of their life.
"Research has also established that regular breast-feeding prevents cancer of the breast for mothers because it would not allow the solidification of milk in the mother's breasts. Proper breast feeding also helps to reduce the cost of bringing up the child.
The burden of bringing up a child would be reduced if mothers breast feed regularly because they would not need to extract breast milk when they feed their child regulalry. For those who also complain about their breasts sagging when they breast feed, that is not an excuse because whether you breast feed or not, the breast will naturally sag, " she said.