Nutritionist says breastfeeding is 98% effective for birth control

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Health Breastfeeding Week
Health Breastfeeding Week

A Nutrition officer with the Central Regional Health Directorate, Mr Joseph Ayiah, has recommended exclusive breastfeeding day and night as a natural contraceptive for lactating mothers as it is 98 percent effective.

He explained that lactating mothers, while breastfeeding, release excessive hormones to regulate the production and release of breastmilk and suppress the hormones of the menstrual cycle to prevent pregnancy.

“But if the menstruation returns, it means the mother can get pregnant. The protocol is that the mother must breastfeed the baby every day and night to achieve that effect.

“And so, for lactating mothers who want to have proper birth spacing, there is no need to fall on artificial procedures,” he said.

Mr Ayiah was speaking at the launch of the Region’s Breastfeeding Week on the theme: “Step up for breastfeeding – Educate and Support”.

The week aims to throw more light on the enormous benefits of breastfeeding to the health and welfare of babies and lactating mothers, with focus on good nutrition, poverty reduction, and food security.

Available data shows that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months in Ghana dropped to 43 percent last year from 63 percent, indicating that not a lot of mothers were doing exclusive breastfeeding in recent times.

While some mothers introduced their babies to water and porridge within the first six months with the excuse that the breastmilk did not satisfy them, others have resorted to artificial milk products.

However, Mr Ayiah said breastmilk was the ideal food for every baby in their first six months because they contained all nutrients in their right proportions, which promoted the healthy growth of the baby and protected it against diseases.

He noted that children under the age of five were susceptible to diseases and death and therefore needed all the benefits breastmilk provided to increase their chances of survival, stressing that the advantages of breastfeeding were boundless.

Describing breastmilk as the first vaccine for babies, Mr Ayiah noted that the mother, through breastfeeding, introduced antibodies of diseases she had fought throughout her life into the baby’s system to protect it against the diseases.

He added that exclusive breastfeeding saved time and money and also avoided medical expenses on sicknesses artificial milk products could cause.

He, therefore, implored all lactating and potential mothers to ensure they breastfed their babies exclusively at least for the first six months, while challenging all stakeholders to support the campaign.

For his part, Dr Kwabena Sarpong, the Acting Central Regional Director of Health, advised mothers who expressed their breastmilk to feed their babies later to do so with extreme caution to avoid contamination.

“Extraction of milk is healthy, but how do we ensure that the container we are using is sterile? Mothers should be taught how to do it in a more hygienic way so that we do not put our babies in harm’s way,” he added.

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