Breastfeeding is not cause of sagging breast – Dr Asare

Dr Asare(left) interacting with some nursing  mothers with their babies   at the Ridge Hospital Photo Daniel Amoo

Dr Asare(left) interacting with some nursing mothers with their babies at the Ridge Hospital Photo Daniel Amoo

The Ghana Health Service has expressed concern about the stagnant rates of early and continued breastfeeding among nursing mothers stating that breastfeeding does not cause a woman’s breast to sag as perceived.

The service says it has observed that most women deprive their babies of the benefit of breastfeeding due to the fear of having a droopy breast after feeding their babies for a while.

“The notion that a woman’s breast sags due to breastfeeding is only a myth, but there are changes in a woman’s breast during pregnancy and breast sagging or staying full can be as a result of genetics or weight gain,” it said.

Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) who was addressing the media on the World Breastfeeding Week in Accra yesterday said the last Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) showed that both exclusive and continued breastfeeding rates have stagnated in the recent past.

“The GDHS showed that only about 52 per cent of Ghanaian children are exclusively breastfed with wide disparities, an indication that close to half of all children are somehow deprived of breast feeding, which is a life saving intervention,” he said.

He said reasons why the proportions of children who are optimally breastfed are low include inadequate information on the benefits of breastfeeding and the perception that the breastmilk alone may not be sufficient for the child.

He said the aggressive actions by the business sector, especially the infant and breastmilk substitute companies has also contributed to the low breastfeeding rates as it undermines a woman’s confidence in breastfeeding.

Dr. Asare stated that improving the practice of exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana requires a multifaceted approach and concerted efforts for all stakeholders to address the deterring factors limiting breastfeeding.

He called on the media, government agencies and health partners to work together to create an environment that allows women to breastfeed exclusively to ensure that their children survive and thrive.

The Director General said the GHS will embark on a series of  advocacy initiatives to create awareness about the fact that breastfeeding is not just a woman’s issue or the sole responsibility  of women, but a shared responsibility of society as a whole.

Dr Owen Kaluwa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country representative to Ghana,  said the theme for this year’s world breastfeeding week celebration, ‘Breastfeeding; foundation of life’ recognises breastfeeding as a universal solution that gives every newborn a fair start in life.

“Breastfeeding is more profound in areas where there is no access to clean water, not openly but the mother herself benefits from breastfeeding which has also shown to reduce breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type two diabetes in mothers,” he said.

He encouraged the government to increase funding to strengthen, promote and support breastfeeding practices in Ghana.

Mrs. Anne-Claire Dufay, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), for her part reiterated that breastfeeding was natural and the most cost-effective way to build a foundation for healthy children, stronger families and sustain growth in the country.

She urged families and grandmothers to desist from giving water or glucose solutions to babies below six months, as breastmilk contains enough water and nutrients to take care of a baby.

Breastfeeding is a universal solution that prevents malnutrition, ensures food security and gives everyone a fair start in life.

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey

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