Statistics by Nigeria Demographic Health Survey in 2013 show that about 17% of children less than 6 months are exclusively breastfed. In other words, approximately 83% of children less than 6months are left out of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding!
Is your child among the lucky 17%?
Do you know that one of the World Health Assembly goals is to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%? You may wonder why we are particular about exclusive breastfeeding.  Sit tight and enjoy the educating post.
Exclusive breastfeeding means giving a baby only breast milk, and no other liquids or solids, not even water. Studies have shown that breast milk provides all the food and water the baby needs during the first 6 months of life. WHO recommends children from 0 to 6 months to be exclusively breastfed.

Tweet #Breastfeeding

Immediately after birth, the baby should be put to breast. This is called early initiation of breastfeeding and it is encouraged because of its benefits. It helps the baby learn to breastfeed while the breast is still soft, helps reduce maternal bleeding, and helps eject the placenta. Early breastfeeding should be initiated within the first 30 minutes of birth.


Early initiation of #breastfeeding, within 1 hour of birth, protects newborns from acquiring infections.

The first breast milk produced within 1st to 3rd day post-partum is thick and yellowish in colour. It is called colostrum and should never be discarded. Colostrum is very rich in nutrients, antibodies, enzymes and immune system cells.  It boosts the baby’s immune system and helps protect against illness. It also helps remove the first dark stool, thus preventing jaundice.

While #breastfeeding is natural, it can take time to learn and it really helps to get ongoing support from #healthworkers or peer counsellors.

Also, family support is a great determinant of exclusive breastfeeding and our social structure needs to be Breastfeeding friendly to ensure that the needed support is given to the mothers, which makes the practice less burdensome and also reduce the economical burden of our household and affect the overall health of the mothers and children now and in later life. Exclusive Breastfeeding also help boost the national productivity of a country.

This is what family and friends can do to support #breastfeeding mums.

Supporting #breastfeeding is one of the best investments countries can make for the health of their citizens. This is what lawmakers can do.
Employers can support breastfeeding at work.


  • It is a complete food for the infant, and provides all babies’ nutrient needed for the first six months.
  • It is easy to digest and nutrients are well-absorbed.
  • Promotes adequate growth and development, thus preventing stunting
  • Contributes in normal  development of jaw and teeth for speech development
  • Contains antibodies that support immune system and protect against diseases especially against diarrhea, allergies, asthma, ear infection, etc
  • Reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS)
  • Prevents the likelihood of obesity and chronic diseases in future

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  • Breast milk is always available and convenient.
  • Helps to lose excess body weight.
  • Less post-partum bleeding
  • Exclusive breastfeeding saves money that would be spent on hospital bills and other expenses.
  • EBF day and night is more than 98% effective as a contraceptive method if her period has not returned.
  • Early initiation facilitates placenta expulsion because the baby’s suckling stimulates the contraction of the womb.
  • Immediate and frequent suckling prevents engorgement.
  • It is affordable and saves cost
  • It saves time
  • Breastfeeding stimulates a close bond between mother and baby.
  • Reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer

Mixed feeding before 6 months of age is harmful to the baby’s health. Mixed feeding means feeding the baby both breast milk and any other foods or liquids such as infant formula, animal milks, or water.

Giving a baby less than 6 months of age any type of foods or drinks other than breast milk reduces the protection that exclusive breastfeeding gives and can lead to either of the problems stated below;

  • Interferes with bonding
  • Increases the risk of some illnesses such as pneumonia, allergic reactions, milk intolerance, diarrhea, and different  forms of malnutrition
  • Increases risk of some chronic diseases
  • Obesity
  • Lower scores on intelligence tests
  • Mother may become pregnant sooner
  • Increased risk of anaemia, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer in mother


Breastfeeding interval does not really have a fixed rule, rather it is expected that the mother breastfeeds the baby on demand, day and night (8 to 12 times). With more suckling (and good attachment), more breast milk is produced.
Tweet #BreastfeedingNew born infants needs to be fed often because their stomachs hold only about 3ounces, so they fill up and empty rapidly. As infants mature, the frequency of feeding decreases because the quantity of milk consumed at one time increases.
Eating healthy foods is not a guarantee that you will produce more breast milk! However, eating healthy food is important to maintain mother’s health. Does your baby suckle well and often? Suckling triggers the release of hormones responsible for breast milk production. Suckling is the watchword!

Mothers are encouraged to allow the baby to finish one breast before offering the other. Switching back and forth from one breast to the other prevents the baby from getting the nutritious ‘hind milk’. The ‘fore milk’ has more water and satisfies the baby’s thirst, it is usually produced in the early part of the feeding session (first 5 to 10 minutes). The ‘hind milk’ has more fat and satisfies your baby’s hunger. So each breastfeeding session should be a total of 20 minutes or more.


Other reasons for expressing breast milk;


  • If the baby may not be able to suckle well at the breast
  • When the mother is working or has busy schedule
  • If the breast is full and uncomfortable
  • To maintain or increase milk production
  • In a case of multiple birth

Breast milk is expressed either manually by using the hand, or using hand-held pump, or using electric breast pump. Either way, practice of personal and environmental hygiene is a NECESSITY. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help on how best to go about any of them.

Note: While it is good to express milk, Do NOT use feeding bottles, teats, or spouted cups. They are difficult to clean and can cause your baby to become sick.

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  • Breast milk must be stored correctly to reduce the potential for bacterial growth.
  • Store breast milk in a clean, sterilized, container with a lid. It can be plastic, glass, sealable plastic bags.
  • Label each container containing the expressed milk with the time and date the breast milk was expressed.
  • Milk can be stored for eight hours in a cool place (at room temperature) and up to 24 hours in the back of the refrigerator (coolest place) and not in the fridge door.
  • Do not top up refrigerated or frozen breast milk with fresh breast milk unless it has been chilled first.
  • The shelf life of frozen breast milk depends on your freezer. If freezer is inside the fridge, storage time is 2 weeks but if its separate and has its own door, storage time is up to 3 months


  • Do not microwave!
  • Warm in warm water!
  • If frozen, thaw before warming.
  • If thawed in warm water, use straight away.
  • Do not refrigerate thawed milk.
  • Once a baby has started to feed from a cup of expressed milk, throw away any milk left after the feed.

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The nutrient and calorie needs of breastfeeding mothers are usually enormous and not surprising because the milk produced by them meets the nutrient and caloric needs of her infant till 6months. In some cases, the lactation requirement exceeds the requirements during pregnancy.

It is important for the mother to feed adequately because she uses about 800kcal to produce about 600 to 800ml of milk per day for the first 6 months. Mature milk averagely contains 750kcal of energy per liter. Much of these nutrients come from her diet and the rest from mobilization of maternal stores that has been accumulated during pregnancy. This encourages gradual weight loss expected during lactation.

Adequate intake of all the nutrients by the mother during lactation is vital to meet the increased needs. Nutrients such as protein, carbohydrate, fat, calcium, folate, zinc, vitamin C, A, E, D, B-complexes, magnesium, etc cannot be overemphasized. The food sources of these aforementioned nutrients are what are obtainable in our immediate environment. Sources include sea foods, rice, oat, beans, yam, meat, egg, nuts, pineapple, apple, watermelon etc.

#Breastfeeding can have lifelong health benefits for babies and their mothers.

We can ALL help make society breastfeeding-friendly!
🤱🤱🏻🤱🏾🤱🏼 pic.twitter.com/qqIxHxMi5Y

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) August 7, 2018

Conclusively, mothers are encouraged to practice exclusive breastfeeding to prevent death, illnesses, poor cognitive development, stunting, underweight and other consequences of malnutrition in infancy.

Article by Nnabugwu Doris; A representative of  Partners for Good Health Initiative(PGHI)


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