Lilongwe, Principal Nutritionist at the Ministry of Health, Sylvester Kathumba, advised working mothers to pump breast milk for their babies to replace milk substitutes.
According to www.babycentre.co.uk breastmilk pumping also called expressing is a way of taking breastmilk from the breast without the baby needing to suckle from the mother as the mother can do this by using hands, a manual pump or an electric pump.
Kathumba said breast milk has all the necessary nutrients that a baby requires for them to grow whereas formula milk can be hard on babies in the sense that a baby’s digestive system is immature and it is unable to break down all the particles contained in formula.
He said if a mother pumps milk, the baby can be able to enjoy the benefits of breastmilk if the baby is not able to breast feed or if the mother will not be available all the time.
According to the 2016 Demographic Health Survey findings, Malawi’s number of exclusively breast fed babies has dropped to 61 percent from 71 percent.
The drop in the number of breastfed babies is a set back to the goal of Malawi vision 2020 which seeks at attaining sustainable economic and social development, food security and nutrition improvement, most importantly end infant mortality which is at 42 in every one thousand babies, he said.
Kathumba added that pumping breast milk can help in increasing the number of exclusively breastfed babies. Agreeing with Kathumba, Chairperson and founder of a group called pumping the way to go Mlezi Tsilizani said pumped milk can be kept for four day in a refrigerator, for four months in a freezer and six hour at room temperature.
Milk should be stored in small quantities measuring what a baby can be able to finish in one feeding, and storing in small quantities allows for easy thawing and warming, she said.
Tsilizani however discouraged mothers from freezing breast milk saying it destroys some of its antibodies which are essential for the baby to help it fight infections frozen breastmilk is still healthier for the baby than formula milk.
According to the World Health Organization breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers, it is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea two major causes of death in infants.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA