As Saint Lucia celebrates Breast Feeding Month, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is seeking to help create an environment that supports breastfeeding.
Ministry of Health officials said that while they continue to play their part in promoting breastfeeding, studies show that Saint Lucia’s rate of breastfeeding remains low.
Chief Nutritionist, Lisa Hunt-Mitchell, said there are numerous benefits of breastfeeding.
“I think we are well aware that breastfeeding promotes a healthy baby. Even more precisely, breastfeeding decreases episodes of respiratory conditions and bowel problems. Breastfeeding can also contribute to a child’s intelligence up until 30 years,” she explained.
The theme for this year’s observance is “Empower Mothers, Enable Breastfeeding.”
Public Health Nursing Supervisor, Persia Adjodha, said breastfeeding exclusively has been proven to be the best for baby’s health.
“You will hear about mothers who have two babies and the one that is breastfed exclusively is usually healthier and has less visits to the hospital than the baby who isn’t breastfed. We are not just saying breastfeeding is best; it has been proven time and again, and research continues to show how breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Not only can breastfeeding save more than 800,000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months; but it also decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.