By Theresa Goodwin
The bond between a mother and her child is undeniably one of the strongest connections that exists in nature – and one that is strengthened through breastfeeding.
Departmental Manager of the Maternity and Neonatal Units, Nurse Ann-Marie Browne-Isaac, emphasised that point as the hospital shines a light on the importance of the age-old practice to mark Breastfeeding Week.
“In the Neonatal Unit, the babies always cry when the mommy is outside waiting. You will find even though you are not in the room, the baby knows you are coming. Breast milk is one of the things that only the mother of the child can provide,” she told Observer.
She also shared that one of the most amazing things she has seen on the ward is babies that are placed on their mother’s abdomen making their way to her breast and latching on without guidance, using their own intuition.
Local health authorities endorse World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations that babies should be exclusively breastfed from birth until they are six months old, and that breastfeeding should be continued for two years and beyond.
According to Nurse Browne-Isaac, about 90 percent of mothers in Antigua and Barbuda have demonstrated a willingness to breastfeed their child.
She said one reason a minority choose not to is due to some discomfort, while some have expressed concern that their child is not getting enough nourishment – a myth she was keen to dispel.
“The colostrum, which is the first portion of milk that comes down, is concentrated and that is rich enough to sustain the baby’s nourishment. We always encourage mothers, even though it does not look enough, the baby is getting enough nourishment,” Nurse Browne-Isaac said.
Breastfeeding Week kicked off yesterday and concludes on September 30. Activities include information sessions on the benefits of breastfeeding for new mothers and those who may require a refresher course.