Dr Winfred Ofosu, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has called on married men to support their wives to practise exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth as it will build the immunity of the child and protect it from some diseases.
“If we can have all men and husbands insisting that their newborn babies be given only breast milk for six months, and after that they commence the complementary feeds, we will be able to achieve a lot.”
“So we are calling on all men to support their wives to adopt exclusive breastfeeding,” Dr Ofosu said in an interview with the media in Bolgatanga, on the sideline of an assessment exercise at the end of a three-year “Mother-Baby Friendly Health Facility Initiative”, implemented in the Upper East Region.
He said there was evidence that most babies could be fed on only breast milk, but unfortunately, some grandparents, especially grandmothers did not believe or accept six-month exclusive breastfeeding practice because they believed that breast milk was food, and so babies should be given water alongside the breast milk.
Dr Ofosu said grandmothers asked the question; “when you eat, don’t you drink water, so if the baby suckles the breast, after that, the baby must also drink water.”
He said breast milk contained about 90 percent of water, and explained that when the baby suckles, the first breast milk that comes is water, to quash the thirst of the baby, “So there is no need to give additional water.”
It would also ensure that the baby was not exposed to contaminated water and feeding bottles as that could result in diarrhoeal diseases.
Dr Ofosu said if anyone doubted the ability of the breast milk to provide water for babies, they could observe the number of times a breastfed baby urinated.
“If you breastfeed your baby exclusively and the baby passes urine, it means that the baby has adequate water,” he noted.
The Director said there was the need for health professionals to communicate the composition of breast milk to couples and grandparents for them to understand its importance and ensure that nursing mothers practised exclusive breastfeeding to enable their babies develop well.