Many people believe that proper breastfeeding of babies is the exclusive role of mothers.
The total well being of babies in the first year of life is dependent on adequate breastfeeding.
Erroneously, fathers have been left out of the breastfeeding equation, leaving the mother to bear the brunt of care for the babe.
Gladly, we are currently in the World Breastfeeding Week celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
This year’s theme is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”.
It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
For this year, WHO is working with UNICEF and partners to promote the importance of family-friendly policies to enable breastfeeding and help parents nurture and bond with their children in early life, when it matters most.
This includes enacting paid maternity leave for a minimum of 18 weeks, and paid paternity leave to encourage shared responsibility of caring for their children on an equal basis.
In Nigeria, to encourage shared paternal involvement in breastfeeding, Mamalette introduced ‘Male Breastfeeding Champions’.
Male Breastfeeding Champions – What this is about?
So Mamalette has dramatically changed the conversion of breastfeeding in this year, by shifting the beam lights on fathers.
The Male Breastfeeding challenge was a twitter challenge for ‘nursing’ father whose spouse is currently breastfeeding a baby.
Male Breastfeeding Champions were selected after different fathers sent in rare but inspiring photos detailing how they have directly helped their spouse ensure regular breastfeeding for their baby.
In the end, Dr. Ikpe Kelechi claimed the first position. The challenge which was on twitter saw Dr. Kelechi’s photo have the highest number of retweet and likes.
The Challenge was supported by other Breastfeeding friendly companies including Aliko Dangote Foundation and Health Partners Plans.
Breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800 000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months.
Breastfeeding decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20 000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.
Congratulations to the Male Breastfeeding Champions.