In partnership with Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) and community-based maternal organisations, the Edie and Amy organisation is providing breastfeeding education to over 400 women in Mushin, Ajegunle, Eti-Osa, and Kosofe local government areas of Lagos State.
Infused with active advocacy and community-based outreaches, they provided practical demonstrations on how to breastfeed, self-care while nursing, and foods that can be eaten to increase breastmilk for mothers at antenatal clinics or community gatherings.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Sanya, the Executive Director of the organisation said that, “Information is key to good health outcomes and Edie & Amy is catering to this need by supplying content to help mothers make informed health decisions and ultimately improve their living standards.
“In Nigeria, breastfeeding is commonly accepted as the ideal method of feeding newborns. However, for the practice of exclusive breastfeeding – which is giving newborn breastmilk only for the first six months of life, the data is not very encouraging. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria from the 2018 NDHS is 29%.”
In a joint statement to mark the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Executive Director of UNICEF stated that this figure was still low. This is in comparison to the 50% target set by the World Health Assembly for 2025, and the SDGs target for 2030.
Miss Rebecca Afolayan from the Alabiamo Foundation also mentioned that “the importance of breastfeeding cannot be overemphasized. Breast milk contains all the nutrients a baby needs, is easy for babies to digest, and boosts the baby’s immune system.”
Sharing a little-known fact about breast milk, Pharm. Maryam Sanuth, an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, said: “An amazing benefit of breastfeeding that people don’t talk about is how it is specific for every child. Your body gives your child exactly what your child needs. We know that children are different, but do we know that breastfeeding is specific for every child? So, it’s dynamic and it’s specific for every child.
“Even though breastfeeding seems like a straightforward thing, some of the physical challenges mothers in Nigeria face with this include pain, engorgement, exhaustion from constant nursing, low milk supply, and not knowing how to latch properly. Not knowing how to manage these things can prevent mothers from breastfeeding entirely, or put them off.”
At the event, they also addressed the issue of various myths about breastfeeding. This was the case for Grace who was told by her mother-in-law that she should allow her baby to sleep and never wake her up to breastfeed. Her baby slept a lot and she wasn’t sure if she was getting enough. The Edie and Amy advocacy team provided Grace, on social media, the education that newborns should feed at least every three hours in other to get sufficient nutrients from the breastmilk to grow well. She was also given other advice and support for free.
“I thank God for them o, if not that’s how I would have left my baby to be sleeping and start losing weight. Then they would say I am a bad mother,” said Grace.
Dr. Sanya further quoted Dr. Ijeoma Idaresit, the Founder of Edie and Amy to have said, “Once you’ve made up your mind to breastfeed, the next thing is planning. Somehow, we feel that it should be automatic, it should be instinctive, but it’s something that needs to be practiced and something that you need to give yourself a break over if you’re not getting it right in the beginning. Reading or going for a class that teaches you how to do it, what to expect, how to tell your baby is hungry and all that…”
Another beneficiary at the outreach, Mrs. Chinyere Ekeode, who was pregnant said, “For today’s program I was so excited. The things they taught us, I’ve not known them before, about breastfeeding. At least now that I’m pregnant, I now know what to do for the new baby that is coming ahead.”
“The organization looks forward to increasing its impact by expanding these programs to more communities, in honor of the legacy of her founder, Dr. Ijeoma Idaresit,” Miss Rebecca said.
Also, The Dr. Ijeoma Ejekam Idaresit fund has been launched in her alma mater, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to support Nigerian students that that are studying for Masters in Public Health (both intensive and distance learning courses.)
Through this, the impact of Dr. Ijeoma Idaresit’s work will be amplified in the various projects carried out by the recipients, with the potential of meeting health needs in Nigeria and Africa.