World Breastfeeding Week 2023 observed

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week 2023 observed

World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated in the first week of August, is here again and every discussion should be on breastfeeding.

The theme for this year is “Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work!” As expected, the Paediatric Society of Ghana has spotlighted the support that mothers need to be able to breastfeed and work at the same time.

In this respect, a seminar was organised on August 2, 2023, virtually on the slogan “Enabling breastfeeding: Making a difference for the working mother”.

Topics discussed included, “The Mother, work and Breastfeeding” which was expertly handled by Dr Sally Manu; “The Role of Fathers in Breastfeeding” by Dr Frank Owusu-Sekyere and “Breastfeeding and the Law” which was eruditely handled by Dr Mrs Gyikua Plange-Rhule.

The need to look at the law and breastfeeding is occasioned by inconsistencies between the exclusive breastfeeding policy and the maternity leave, which is three months in Ghana while we encourage exclusive breastfeeding for six months. Mothers, therefore, need immense support to navigate this slippery terrain; hence, the need for support from fathers and all around them.

Why should we promote breastfeeding? A few facts are presented below.

Human breast milk provides the primary source of nutrition for newborns before they can eat and digest other food. During the first few days after delivery, the breast produces colostrum, a thin yellowish fluid rich in protein and antibodies that provide passive immunity to the baby because the baby’s immune system is immature.

Colostrum also helps the baby’s digestive system to grow and function properly. Unfortunately, colostrum has been erroneously tagged as dirty milk which must never be given to the child.

This assertion is absolutely false and every effort should be channelled into correcting this misconception.

The breastmilk changes and increases in quantity about 48 to 72 hours after birth. It may take longer depending on when breastfeeding is started and how often breastfeeding is done.

The change in milk occurs a little earlier if one has breastfed before.

Besides the colostrum, there are foremilk and hindmilk. When first starting to breastfeed, the first milk the baby receives is called foremilk. It is thin and watery with a light blue tinge.

Foremilk is largely water needed to satisfy the baby’s thirst. The hind milk is released after several minutes of nursing. It is similar in texture to cream and has the highest concentration of fat.

The hind milk has a relaxing effect on the baby. It helps the baby to feel satisfied and contributes to weight gain by the baby.

Protein in breast milk is mostly whey, which is easier to digest by the baby than casein, the main protein in cow’s milk from which most formula milk is made. The protein of breast milk has high amounts of amino acid called taurine, which has an important role in the development of the brain and the eyes of the baby. The same cannot be said of formula.

Fats in breast milk are practically self-digesting because breast milk also contains lipase, an enzyme responsible for the digestion of fat.