The Tema Metropolitan Directorate is observing this year’s world breast-feeding week with a call on mothers not to compromise on exclusive breast feeding of their babies in their first six months.
The annual breast-feeding week is globally celebrated from August 01 to August 07, and this year’s event is being commemorated on the theme: “Protecting Breast-Feeding; A Shared Responsibility”.
The Tema Metropolis as part of the Greater Accra Region has the local theme; “Start Right, Feed Right, From Birth Up to Two Years and Beyond”.
Mr Samuel Atuahene Antwi, Tema Metropolitan Nutrition Officer, speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Tema, said mothers must initiate breast-feeding within 30 minutes after delivery and continue exclusively for six months after which complimentary feeding could be introduced.
Mr Antwi said breast-feeding was the best food for babies as it contained all the needed nutrients, therefore mothers should not compromise the health of their babies by feeding them with any other thing unless prescribed by a doctor.
He indicated that HIV positive mothers who were on the antiretroviral drugs could breastfeed their babies without infecting them with the virus.
He added that even with COVID-19, no significant study had confirmed a mother infecting the baby with it through breast-feeding, therefore it was safe to breast in such a situation.
He said all that was required of a COVID-19 infected mother was to wear her nose mask, wash her hands with soap under running water and sanitize her hands with alcohol based sanitizer before breast-feeding.
The Nutritionist further said it was a myth that babies fed well from the feeding bottle than the mother’s breast, saying a mother must position the baby well to the breast while sitting comfortably with a backrest when breast feeding.
He revealed that for mothers to produce more milk for their babies they needed to allow the babies to suckle, as the more they sucked, the more the hormones produce the milk and it also helped them to strengthen their jaws, stressing that replacing breastfeeding with formula food could lead to the flow of the breast to seize.
Mr Antwi also urged mothers to eat nutritious food to be in good health to be in a better position to breast-feed the babies exclusively for six months.
He explained that family food that contained the four star-food groups could be found in all Ghanaian local dishes and should be introduced to the child alongside the breast-feeding.
He appealed to employers to make provisions for lactating mothers to either feed their babies at work or express the milk when the breast gets full while working.
He stressed that it was about time that management of companies agreed to give mothers six-month maternity leave to practice exclusive breast feeding before resuming work after giving birth without being victimized.
He also cautioned health officials against subtly endorsing commercial baby foods as it was against the Ghana Breastfeeding Promotion Regulations 2000 (LI 1667), which enjoined them not to promote the sale and promotion of such products in any form.
The regulations state: “No person shall sell, advertise, promote or assist in the sale, advertisement or promotion of a designated product in any health care facility or undertake or participate in any promotional practice in respect of a designated product in any public place”.
Breast-feeding week is a celebration of the international effort to governance, protect and promote breast-feeding.
The Tema Metropolis is commemorating the week with sensitization and advocacy programmes as well as demonstration of proper posture and attachment of baby to the breast at antenatal clinics and child welfare centres across the Metropolis.