As we celebrate International breastfeeding week. I know the percentage of women who don’t breastfeed in this country is small, but notwithstanding we still need to create more awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months in the child’s life. Women in this country take pride in breastfeeding their children. Some women breastfeed for more than eighteen to twenty-four months. Our problems are how nutritious are these breastmilk for the development of the infant? Since most women in Sierra Leone do not have access to a well- balanced diet, this might be the reason for the high malnutrition rate in Sierra Leone. But this is a story for another day. Now let’s debunk some of this myth
Myth 1. The idea that too much breastfeeding can make a child dumb. “You go make dis Pekin fool oooo” “e go turn efulefu” they will tell you. This is totally false and a myth as this has never been proven scientifically by research as there is no correlation between this two, that too much breastmilk can make an infant dumb. This sometimes can scare the mothers and some will listen and stop breastfeeding instantly.
Myth 2. That having sex with another man different from your husband can affect the child and causes Malnourishment or as we called it in Sierra Leone “Bahnfa d Pekin”. This is totally wrong some men had divorced their wives base on these assumptions. I am not promoting promiscuity in any way, but this idea is totally untrue. Malnourishment or diarrhea of the baby might happen because the mother is not eating a balanced diet or might be eating food that is totally affecting the baby bowel but the lack of awareness in our societies had led to many homes been destroyed or women stigmatized.
Myth 3. That having sex with your husband can contaminate the breast milk for the baby. Young mothers, please ignore this as there is no connection between the virgina and the breasts. Breast milk is determined by what you eat as a suckling mother and how you eat them. You can still be breastfeeding and having a great sex life.
Myth 4. Cassava leaf can bring out the milk. Our people will give nothing to a new mother but cassava saying ” na for d Bobi wata” its for the breastmilk. Cassava leaf is just a vegetable. Which when cooked with other ingredients can be very tasty but it cannot directly increase the flow of the mother’s milk.
Myth 5. That if you are breastfeeding and sexually active you can’t get pregnant, This is not true my fellow women if you are a suckling mother and you are sexually active but do not want to get pregnant again so soon practice safe sex, use condoms or other family planning method. Otherwise, there is no guarantee you won’t get pregnant again.
Myth 6. That only starchy foods are good for suckling mothers. Sierra Leoneans everybody needs a balanced diet especially suckling mothers as they need all the nutrients for their babies development.
Myth 7. If a suckling mom is sick she should not breastfeed. This is totally untrue, you can be sick and still breastfeed as long as you are able to eat you can breastfeed. But take note; always informed your physician that you are a suckling mom to keep him/her in the know, and this will determine the type of medicine he or she will prescribe for you and the dosage. This can be helpful sometimes as the antibodies your system makes will be pass on to your baby, which will also be good for the development of their immune system. Some of the things that can affect the baby are;
1. Chemical characteristic of the drugs
2. Amount of milk the baby consumes at the time.
3. The time period between the moment the drug was taken and the time of the feeding.
But there are specific drugs as suckling mother you should avoid. These areas are as follows; hard drugs, alcohol, and marijuana. Though some type of cannabis is a clinically active substance. The negative side effects of taking these drugs can not be overemphasized. Drug use is on the increase and the same is true for women taking these drugs and alcohol. As mothers or suckling mothers our first priority is to take care of our babies and to make sure they grow healthy and watching what we eat, drink or smoke for six months is a little sacrifice we can pay to see them grow up strong.
Happy International Breastfeeding week my fellow women in SaLone@dasalonetiti
©By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo