Dr John Otoo, the Eastern Regional Deputy Director of Public Health of the Ghana Health Service, has emphasised the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for postpartum weight loss, saying it helps to flatten the belly.
He stated that mothers, who exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months after delivery, could help regain their flat tummies.
Exclusively breastfeeding means providing a baby with only breastmilk without introducing any other foods or liquids, such as infant formula or water, for a recommended duration of six months.
Dr Otoo, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding to both babies and mothers, said significant evidence had shown a rapid contraction of the uterus as more prolactin hormone produced breastmilk only after delivery.
“The more the child sucks (the breast), the more prolactin is released, and the uterus shrinks back to its original size,” he said.
He said exclusive breastfeeding prevented postpartum haemorrhage, a situation where nursing mothers bleed profusely after birth, which could lead to death.
Dr Otoo stated that the well-being of a mother was dependent on the proper breastfeeding of her baby, which helped the uterus shrink by closing all the pulses in the womb.
He also mentioned that practicing exclusive breastfeeding prevented ovulation in nursing mothers and served as a natural form of contraception.
Regarding the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding for the baby, he mentioned the rapid growth of the brain, the production of antigens to fight off diseases, and the ability to regulate body temperature.
He noted that exclusive breastfeeding was a huge task that demanded time and, therefore, urged husbands, family members, and work colleagues to support nursing mothers to that effect.
Dr Otoo, however, noted that the three-month maternity leave given to nursing mothers defeated the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
He indicated that employers were often afraid of the long break of lactating mothers from their formal jobs if granted a six-month maternity leave, and, therefore, may not want to hire women who were yet to build their own families.
He suggested that organisations should establish a welcoming environment that allowed nursing mothers to bring their babies to work, promoting exclusive breastfeeding.