Food and NutritionHealth & Lifestyle

Early breastfeeding initiation for Tema babies increased in 2023 – Nutritionist

Tema, Jan. 22, GNA – Mr. Samuel Atuahene Antwi, the nutritionist for the Tema Metropolitan Health Directorate, has disclosed that the early initiation of breastfeeding for babies born in Tema increased to 77.7 percent in 2023.

Mr Antwi, speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, stated that the percentage showed a 5.7 percent increase over the 72.0 percent early initiation seen in 2022.

He said while the Tema North sub-metro had about a 19 percent increase in early breastfeeding initiation, the Tema South sub-metro saw a slight increase of 6.5 percent, and Community One recorded a decrease of 3.7 percent in its early breastfeeding initiative.

He noted that 88.1 percent of babies born in 2023 were exclusively breastfed for three months, while only 2.5 percent of them continued breastfeeding at age one.

The nutritionist encouraged mothers to breast-feed their babies within the recommended time after delivery, noting that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the initiation of breastfeeding be done within the first hour after birth.

Mr Antwi said the colostrum, which is the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced first at the onset of breastfeeding, was the perfect food for the newborn and must be given to the baby within an hour after birth.

The first milk, he noted, contained important compounds and antibodies that build the baby’s immune system and help in fighting infections, as well as providing vitality and growth for the baby.

He explained that to derive the full benefits of breastfeeding, mothers must do their best to practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of the baby’s life and then start complimentary feeding for at least two years before weaning the baby off the breast.

He said the benefits of breastfeeding for babies included the promotion of growth development, which prevents stunting, adding that breast milk is easily digestible for the absorption of nutrients into the baby’s body.

He indicated that the process of sucking the breast also helped the baby’s jaw and teeth to develop, as it served as an exercise for the facial muscles.

He said that while breast feeding had many benefits for the baby, its early initiation also facilitates the expulsion of the placenta in the mother as the suckling stimulates uterine contractions and reduces the risk of bleeding after delivery.

GNA

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