Breastfeeding is fundamental to the health and development of children and important for the health of the mothers.
The program for the control of diarrhoeal diseases has long recognized the need for the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life.
It should be sustained together with adequate complementary foods up to two years of age and beyond to reduce diarrhoea, morbidity and mortality.
Breast-feeding has many health advantages for both mother and the baby. Breast milk has been shown to protect babies against urinary, respiratory, otitis media infections (middle ear infection) and atopic disease if there is a family history of atopy (allergies). Adequate intake of breast milk provides all known nutritional requirements, and provides an optimal balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in readily digested forms.
Human milk has the additional advantage of providing protection against diseases in the form of immune factors and resistance to antigen absorption from small intestines.
The addition of solid foods before six months of age only adds excess calories and imposes a heavy renal solute load while increasing water demand.
The breastfed babies attain optimal intelligence. Studies show a slight but statistically significant increase in the IQ (intelligent quotient) of breastfed babies compared with those who have not been breast fed
Breast-feeding provides a unique maternal infant contact and readily available food for the baby. Maternal benefits include reduced risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer and some forms of ovarian cancer and possibility of protection against hip fractures in older age and some degree of protection from pregnancy.
Kigali Health Institute (KHI) is committed to assist the breast feeding working mothers and students to achieve their maternal goals.
The Nursing / Midwifery staff and VVOB skills lab at KHI have introduced the breast feeding corner in the fight against child mortality and morbidity rates and also as a form of motivating the lactating mothers who are among the staff and students of KHI.
This is achieved by encouraging the breastfeeding mothers at KHI to use the electrical breast pump we provide. The strategy helps mothers to maintain lactation, which means the flow of milk continues, even if the baby is not breast feeding during the day.
The milk is left at home for the baby to be fed on even in the mothers’ absence. The breastfeeding corner has electrical breast pump machine, individual manual breast pumps, breast pump sterilizers, refrigerator for storing breast milk, comfortable seats for mothers, cups and fluids for mothers to drink as they pump the milk.
Mothers are advised to wash their hands before starting the process. Skilled lab team and nursing staff are always available to assist the mothers if need be.
The mothers are given relevant information and are encouraged to ask questions whenever necessary even when at home. They can call at any time of day and night for any queries. The breastfeeding corner is used free of charge.
This practice should be encouraged in all other institutions and other work places in Rwanda and beyond. All employers should assist their employees who are breastfeeding by allowing mothers time to pump the milk while at their places of work.
Remember, healthy children are the foundation of a strong, healthy and wealthy nation.
Uhawenimana Thierry Claudien is the Public Relations Officer at the Kigali Health Institute