Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has disclosed that it will seek an increase in maternity leave for nursing mothers in the state from three months to six months.
The disclosure was made recently by the Nutrition Officer of the agency, Lady Regina Adie, at a media roundtable organised with support from FHI360 and Alive and Thrive, in Calabar, the state capital.
The event aimed to share perspectives on issues relating to the promotion of optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices in Cross River.
Adie said it sought the leave extension to enable mothers carry out exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of their babies’ lives.
She said among other efforts to achieve this, they had conducted advocacy visits to the state House of Assembly Committee on Health.
“We have also paid an advocacy visit to traditional and religious leaders to create awareness on the benefits of breast feeding and to encourage early initiation and exclusive breast feeding among care givers in communities.
“Through the media, we hope to create more awareness as well as train health workers on early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding counselling during antenatal clinics and postnatal services,” she said.
Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Dr Iwara Iwara, who spoke on men’s involvement in promoting breastfeeding, said men have overtime mistakenly believed that breast feeding was for babies and mothers alone.
Iwara said fathers have important roles in facilitating or undermining the success of breastfeeding in every home and an understanding of their roles and responsibilities was a key tool in helping their breastfeeding partners.
He said breast milk contains all needed nutrient requirements for babies, protects against common childhood illnesses, increases child mother bonding, and high intelligent quotient (IQ) for the child.
“For the mothers, breastfeeding reduces stress, increases confidence and self-esteem, and increase in the calm disposition. It is a natural family planning method, cost effective and less cumbersome method of feeding babies,” he said.