Abuja- A nutritionist, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, has advised employers to provide crèches in their work places to support nursing mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
Onimawo, the Vice Chancellor of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said employers should look at the international policy on crèches and implement same in the country.
“The international policy says any employer that has more than 50 people should provide a crèche where a woman can always take care of the child and breastfeed him or her on demand.
“All these come to play if we want to improve breastfeeding rate in the country,’’ the expert said.
Onimawo, who is also a former President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, said awareness on breastfeeding was not enough in the country.
He advised medical workers to educate nursing mothers on the need to embrace exclusive breastfeeding for their babies.
“Some nursing mothers give excuse that they are career women but that should not be an excuse for not breastfeeding because there are ways of doing it.
“Breast milk can be expressed even if it is not stored in the fridge; it is healthy, so people need to know that breast milk can be expressed while the mother is at work.
“Mothers need to know that breast milk contains more than 80 per cent water. The child doesn’t need water while being breastfed,’’ he said.
Onimawo said there were a lot of advantages of practising exclusive breastfeeding for the baby and the mother.
“Exclusive breastfeeding will make the child to be healthy and he or she will be more intelligent.
“ The mother of the child will visit clinic less because the health of the mother will improve and the mother is not likely to develop loop that can lead to breast cancer.
“So, there are so many advantages and when the mother knows about this; on her own, she will begin to practise it,’’ he said.
In addition, Onimawo urged Nigerians to eat balanced diet.
“Our diets are heavily carbohydrate and too much of it is not good for human nutrition.
“We should include vegetables and fruits in our diets to increase our nutrients,’’ he said.