How we defy myths, family pressures to entrench exclusive breastfeeding – Parents

    How we defy myths, family pressures to entrench exclusive breastfeeding – Parents

    The road to exclusive breastfeeding was long, dreary and tortous for some parents who have to brave the odds including myths, family pressures and even physical, mental and psychological trauma.

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    But in their resolve to ensure the well being and better future for their children, these “champions” developed thick skins and evolve spectacular resilience against the bevy of impediments and encumbrances which would have pulverized their dreams to smithereens.

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    These parents who remained resolute in the face of ostracization, assaults, physical and mental abuses while recounting their ordeal said their sacrifices are not in vain because of its tremendous benefits to the children, family and society.

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    Leading the chorus is the executive chairman of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed who said he faced stiff family resistance while trying to adopt the exclusive breastfeeding on his children.

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    Mohammed who made the revelation during 2023 world breastfeeding week media dialogue organized by UNICEF in Azare said such family pressures prevented his four daughters from benefitting from the practice.

    He said the worst travail came from his mother who said she would place a curse on him if he goes ahead with plans to exclusively breastfeed his children as the practice constitute a gross abuse on the child.

    But he noted that in his resolve to better the lot of the rest of his children, he devised a number of strategies including mediation, enlightenment and advocacy within the family circle to ensure that his remaining daughters were exclusively breastfed.

    He noted that the four children who are exclusively breastfed are doing better than the ones who did not benefit from the practice in almost all indices of child development.

    But the story of Malama Hussaina Adamu, not real name, is not as rosy as that of Mohammed who is a breadwinner as her efforts to breastfed her daughter led to the crash of her marriage.

    In an exclusive chat with our reporter, Adamu said the briefings she received during ante natal care made her to settle for exclusive breastfeeding.

    “During the ante natal briefings we were taught the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. During such sessions, children who went through exclusive breastfeeding were brought to us and that served as an eloquent testimony to how beneficial the practice is to the health of children.

    “Since I’m a dutiful and loving mother, all I want is to have healthy, strong and exuberant children, hence my determination to exclusively breastfed my daughter after delivery.

    “But my decision to adopt the practice didn’t go down well with my husband who instantly divorced me, accusing me of attempting to kill his daughter,” she said.

    Adamu noted that upon hearing of her travails, some good Samaritans including health personnel met with the husband and informed him that the exclusive breastfeeding was the best practice for nursing babies from 0 to 6 months.

    “After he was well tutored and guided on the importance of the practice, my husband brought me back and I can assure you that all my children (3) in numbers are doing very well because they were all exclusively breastfed.

    “Because of my success with exclusive breastfeeding, many families are adopting the practice in our community,” she said.

    In the same vein, a mother Saratu Shehu not real name, said, she went through a lot of physical and psychological torture for introducing exclusive breastfeeding on her children.

    Shehu said she lives in the same compound with her mother in-law and some of her husband’s brothers which worsens her case.

    “When I told my mother in-law about my intensions to exclusively breastfeed my child, I became the subject of lurid and coarse jokes. At a point I was physically assaulted despite my precarious health condition in the aftermath of my delivery.

    “When the threat on my life became unbearable, I have to leave for my parents house where I stayed till after six months. Luckily for me my husband is on my side on the issue.

    “Despite the ostracization and bad blood against me, my husband sturdily remained with me. But one thing that became apparent was that after six months of exclusive breastfeeding, even my mother in-law was showering praises on me for caring after the baby to which I told her that it was the handwork of the exclusive breastfeeding.

    “Since then I never had any challenge administering exclusive breastfeeding on my children because of the apparent benefits,” she said.

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