Why is it important to promote breast milk?

Breast milk is the only and best food an infant needs (UNICEF DRC Pudlowski)

YOUNG REPORTER – Breast milk is the only and best food an infant needs during his/her first six months. After this, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding up to the age of 2.

Breastfeeding: an important practice

A large number of children suffer from a weak immune system and are unable to overcome certain diseases. In the past, certain traditions forbid, for example, giving the new-born the first milk produced, which is yellow in colour, even though this contains vitally important vitamins. What is more, some women are less aware of their babies’ breastfeeding needs, preferring to feed them from bottles from a few weeks of age. Others entrust their babies to wet nurses in order to continue with their work and activities.

Prenatal consultations to raise awareness amongst mothers

I spoke with Jeannette, who is the mother of a 5 month-old baby. She spoke to me about the benefits of breastfeeding and the advice that pregnant women receive during their prenatal consultations (CPN): “I breastfeed exclusively, as has been recommended to me in the CPN. My child has been breastfed since birth and I intend to continue to breastfeed exclusively up to 6 months. Many mothers know how important breastfeeding is but they don’t do it properly, especially those who work. They only breastfeed their children during their breaks from work. They don’t realise that we are the main people who can provide our children with good health.” After this exchange, I met Doctor Kambale from the Charité Maternelle health centre in Goma: “It is vital for our mothers to follow the advice they receive from the CPN. During the first six months of their lives, babies should be breastfed exclusively. From six months, you can start to gradually add drinking water and additional foodstuffs to strengthen their nutrition.

Breast milk is the baby’s first vaccination

I am asking mothers to be the first source of growth for their children by breastfeeding them exclusively up to six months of age. Breast milk is a baby’s first vaccination. Mothers shouldn’t favour vaccination at the cost of breastfeeding. Vaccinations are important, but breastfeeding is essential for the organisms of children of breastfeeding age. I am also asking the Congolese government, who ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to implement article 24: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”. And paragraph 2.e specifies “To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, [and] the advantages of breastfeeding…”.

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Translated from French by Amber Sherman

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Nadia Issa

Nadia âgée de 15 ans est Enfant Reporter de Goma. Elle est en 4ème littéraire au collège Mwanga et rêve de devenir pédiatre parce son plus grand souhait est de voir les enfants en bonne santé.

Nadia is a 15 year-old Young Reporter from Goma. She's in Litterary year four at Mwanga secondary school and dreams of becoming a pediatrician because her strongest wish is to see children in good health.

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