Last week the world celebrated World Breastfeeding Week with the theme;”Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”. It is an initiative to raise awareness on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.
In a joint statement by United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF). Executive Director,Catherin Russell and World Health Organisation (WHO) Director – General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the occasion of the World Breastfeeding Week, the global bodies noted that, as “global crises continue to threaten the health and nutrition of million of babies and children, the vital importance of breastfeeding as the best possible start in life is more critical than ever”.
The statement further notes that breastfeeding guarantees a safe, nutritious and accessible food source for babies and young children. However, only 44 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life, short of the World Health Assembly target of 50 percent by 2025.
Also, the Rivers State Government highlighted the need for nursing mothers to engage in exclusive breastfeeding to promote healthy baby growth. This was contained in a goodwill message delivered by the State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Banigo to mark the breastfeeding week.
The deputy governor noted that breast milk is nature’s food and ensures a baby’s health and qualify of life from childhood to adulthood.
Exclusive breast feeding of babies since birth, is known as feeding infants only from breast milk,be it directly or from breast or expressed, except drops or syrups consisting of vitamins,mineral supplements or medicine.
In a recent review reported in July, 2022 Dan Brennon, a paediatrician, lactation counsellor, who specialises in newborn care and professor of medicine, stated that exclusive breastfeeding contains anti bodies that help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria. This lowers the baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illneses and bouts of diarrhoea. They also have fewers hospitalisation and trips to the doctor.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) said exclusive breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDs (Sudden Infant Death Sydrome), lowers the risk of diabetes, obesity, certain cancers and also linked to higher Intelligence Quotent (IQ).
After breastfeeding exclusively for six months, many experts recommend that breastfeeding should continue through the baby’s first year of life.
To achieve quality breast milk for babies, recommended foods for nursing mother’s include protein foods 2 – 3 times per day such as meat, poultry, fish (e.g salmon, tuna fish, since Docasa HexanenoicAcid (DHA) is an important omega 3 fatty acid needed by babies for brain development), eggs, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds, dark green and yellow vegetables per day. At least, two servings of fuits per day. Also,whole grains such as whole wheat breads, pasta, cereal and oatmeal. Also, enough water.
The question now is, with the economic downturn in many countries and especially in Nigeria, can nursing mothers eat well to engage in exclusive breastfeeding?.
In an interview with The Tide, a Nutritionist of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, who wants to remain anonymons, stated that the first thing to do as a nursing mother is to allow the baby suck all the time to help stimulate the breast produce milk. She added that mothers have to eat well for exclusive breastfeeding to be achieved but due to the economic situation, cheaper foods can be consumed. They include rice and fish peppersoup, pap, locally made guinea corn and millet; these are all good. Nursing mothers should drink lots of warm water, consume enough beverages. We do not advise nursing mothers to take palm wine”, she noted.
In another interview with a nursing mother/midwife, Mrs Gloria Ugochukwu, who had her baby a week ago stated that, she started exclusive breastfeeding but may stop at three months due to the economic situation.
“According to her,” I exclusively breastfed my first baby for six months, that was in 2020. Then we had enough money to play around. My husband brought all the necessary food items so I fed properly. I had enough beverages, milk, pap. I ate rice with enough vegetables, meat, fish and lots of fruits like apples to help the baby. Also, palm wine for the first month which aided the breast milk to flow. Now, with this current baby, things are expensive, so we have to go for supplementary items that are less expensive like cowbell or milksy milk powder instead of peak, then cornflakes. For fruits, no way for apples, instead, I take cucumber, tigernuts, also palm wine. I also take routine medications like blood tablets and vitamins.
With this second baby, my husband and I agreed that I will breastfeed for three months and go back to work so that I can help the family by earning my full salary.
Exclusive breastfeeding was a bit scary and very difficult with my first baby but I am happy that I did it because my baby did not fall sick at all during those six months.
Also speaking with The Tide on telephone, Mrs Jennifer Peters, a nursing mother and civil servant, resident in Kaduna Metropolis said, she is strictly on exclusive breastfeeding and happy about it, though it is her first time.
According to her, “I eat very well, basically rice, vegetables, beans, enough fruits, instead of yam which is expensive. Beverages are also expensive now, I take Dano milk instead of peak milk. No matter the economic situation, I will continue exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
She added that, after four months of maternity leave, she would resume work but will take her baby to the office since there is crèche for babies.
She also added that for the three months she had exclusively breastfed her baby, apart from the routine vaccines administered to the baby at the hospital, they have not visited the hospital for any illness.
Speaking also with The Tide, the Medical Director, Laden Clinic, Rumuogba, Rivers State, Dr Onyii Ukegbu, maintained that, exclusive breastfeeding is far better than artificial milk, despite the economic situation in the country.
Dr Ukegbu advised nursing mothers to stick to exclusive breastfeeding for six months to avoid diseases that may endanger the baby’s health.
She added that nursing mothers can prepare soups with blended crayfish and “sogu” fish, which is cheap with vegetables and eba. Those in the villages are better off, she said. They can eat plantains with enough vegetables, snails and other protein foods instead of going for cowmilk.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
Different Hair Styles For Women
Braided hairstyles can make you look natural. They can also make you look trendy. The following hairstyles will make you look attractive.
Criss-cross goddess braids
This is perfect during periods you want to give your hair a break or when you are going on a vacation. When you don’t want to style your hair every morning. The good thing about this kind of braid is that it does not take too long during weaving.
Dynamic side-swept cornrows
This is popular among blacks because it protects the hair. It is free from heat for several weeks until you desire to loose it.
Asymmetrical godess braids
Mix plaits of different sizes into braids hairstyles to create texture and dimension. Here, tiny braids are unnecessary. It is more exciting than the regular braids. It makes hairdo to look like a fun. You can add beads to the tips.
Long chunky black braids
Always in total style. The hairdo feels very hot with alternative thin braids. No matter the volume and length, you can style the hair in ways your natural look will take.
This hairdo is beneficial in the sense that it makes cornrow hairstyles look more natural and less bulky by creating a narrow and flat point at the hairline. This protects the edges.
Cornrows enclosed by headband braid
There is no room for breakage when you have this hairdo. It is better to protect the hairstyle by wrapping the hairdo with hair net at night.
Jumbo double-twisted updo
Here is a simple ‘updo’ for black women with natural hair that can work when going for an event. It can done in a few minutes.
Intricate boxer braids
The style of hairdo showcases your personality and your personal taste. When you braid hairs, it protects the hair and makes you look gorgeous. So always search for hairstyles that protect your hair and gives you the best.
Reverse flat twists
Traditional cornrows go from forehead to nape, but if you have shorter hair, you want to have some volume on top of your head, reverse them. When you reverse them, bunch of curls look very sweet and makes one look younger.
When you braid your hair, you forget about hair styling for several weeks. Braided hair will help you give your hair some rest and protect it from harsh environmental hazards.
Women And Rubbing Of Powder During Naming Ceremony
The significance of rubbing powder by women during naming ceremonies can not be over-emphasised.
Naming ceremonies for newborns are always a thing of joy.
In some parts of our Nigerian culture, as soon as the news of a baby is announced, the women within that neighbourhood will gather and begin to sing songs of joy.
In most of our local communities, naming of a child is seen as symbolic and significant, hence the need for invitaiton of friends and relatives for a ceremony or party to announce the name of the child.
Naming ceremony is usually marked with prayers by the family’s Christian faithful.
It is celebrated with gifts, refreshments and some other activities depending on the tradition of the people or the place where the child is born.
One usual practice in naming ceremonies in some parts of Nigeria is rubbing of white powder. In some places, immediately after the birth of the child is announced, women around the neighborhood get white powder or white native chalk and rub it on their necks and faces.
I have always wondered why it is done that way. This is common practice in our local communities and even in urban areas where women dominate. Sometimes they do it in the markets once any of their neighbours or a member in the market has a new-born.
In some areas in Nigeria, they use nzu (white native chalk). Normally, they do this while singing joyous songs as women are gathered and soft drinks, garden eggs, peanuts, cucumber and others are made available.
Apart from the fact that the white powder is used on necks during the child’s naming ceremony, some women also use it around their abdomen and womb area. This is usually done for everyone who took part in the naming ceremony.
They also say that rubbing the powder around the abdomen shows that more babies will be born.
Even after that day, other women who visit the family are normally provided with white powder to rub on their neck while they present gifts to the new baby.
The use of white powder at naming ceremonies at the birth of the child is said to signify purity of heart, goodwill and welcome for the new child. It also signifies happiness and joy of a gift of a child.
In some places, other preparations include cooking of rice, preparation of pounded yam with different kind of soup during the naming ceremony.
Reports have it that Palm oil is also a significant part of the naming ceremony. A drop of it, they say, will be put in the baby’s mouth and everyone present at the naming ceremony will also taste the oil. It is said that tasting the oil is a sign of blessing for the baby.
In some communities, things like honey, sugar, kolanut, bitter kola, alligator pepper, palmoil, sugar, sugarcane, salt, and alcohol are also used at naming ceremonies, all having different meanings.
Some other important activities at naming ceremonies are prayers said for the newborn and the parents, eating and drinking and of course, announcing the name of the child by the parents, through the person officiating the ceremony.
Eunice Choko Kayode
Early Detection: Key To Combating Breast Cancer
For prominent Nigerians and celebrities in the country, cancer is no longer an ailment to only imagine. It is one that is currently ravaging their ranks and reducing their numbers.Such was the case of two notable women. One 48-year-old Roseline Ogbemudia, wife of the eldest son of Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, former Governor of Edo State, South-South of Nigeria, and the other victim; a popular socialite and sister of former Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Evangelist Bimpe Oluwayose-Sorinolu. Roseline and Bimpe both battled breast cancer till death. While the former died in a hospital in India, the latter died in a London hospital.
From first discovering a tiny growth on the left or right breast to eventually having the entire section removed through a painful and expensive surgery, life has not been the same for breast cancer survivors. Some of them eventually live from hand to mouth after losing their main source of income and other material assets in the course of battling with their situation. Regrettably, some have had their entire physiognomy changed, virtually looking like the shadow of themselves and in most cases, the wounds far from healing. A victim once painfully said, “I wish the day I felt that tiny growth on my breast which I thought was mere fat cyst never came. If I had known that it was a cancerous lump growing in my breast, I would have paid more attention. Maybe that would have made the difference.”
From the experiences of many women under the breast cancer scourge, the world has refused to renege on its effort at getting the populace more aware of the enigma and how to combat it. For women across the globe, the awareness created about ‘breast cancer’, cannot be forgotten in a hurry. For once, the phobia they have had over the years of the monster called Breast cancer as a death sentence is doused down. Now it is crystal clear that breast cancer though a traumatic health challenge, is curable.
In pursuance of this course, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State chapter appealed to government at all levels, politicians and philanthropists to provide free Chemotherapy Centres in the State. The association made the appeal during the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign organised in partnership with Engraced Life Foundation in Port Harcourt.
In a statement by the Chairperson, Mrs. Susan Serekara-Nwikhana and Secretary, Dr. Ngozi Anosike, the body demanded that cancer treatments be made free so that everyone suffering from it can have access to free test and treatment, pointing out that such gesture will go a long way in reducing preventable deaths caused by cancer.
Maintaining that early detection saves lives, NAWOJ enumerated the importance of self breast examination so as to be able to detect lumps in the breast that might likely cause cancer and advised women to see their doctors once a lump is detected on any part of the breast.
The association observed with dismay that most of the women screened for free during the breast cancer awareness campaign in the State are suffering from breast cancer, but lack access to treatment due to poverty.
It expressed belief that establishment of free chemotherapy and cancer treatment centres in different locations in the state would reduce to the barest minimum the number of women who die of the deadly disease. The association, in collaboration with Engraced Life Foundation, embarked on some form of community outreach to some communities within the state . Women in the visited communities had their vital signs examined, and blood sugar tested..Thousands of women were screened for free, given medications especially for the minor diagnosis while serious cases were referred to Oncologists for further investigations and possible treatments.
Breast cancer, a disease that is characterised by the abnormal growth of cells in the breast (CDC, 2020). is the most common malignant disorder affecting women and the leading cause of death among them (Bray et al., 2004). The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or thickening in the breast – but there are other symptoms too.They include:Change in size or feel of the breast, Changes in the skin of the breast, such as dimpling or redness.Fluid leaking from the nipple, outside of pregnancy or breast-feeding. Change in position of the nipple.These symptoms can be caused by other conditions any way.
Breast cancer is characterised by cells lining the duct turning into cancerous cells but not spreading into nearby breast tissue through the walls of the duct. It is an early stage of breast cancer, most women having it can be cured. Invasive Breast Cancer spread into surrounding breast. Most breast cancers fall into this category but the two most common types are invasive ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells lining the milk duct, and invasive lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules of the breast.Triple-negative Breast Cancer is a type of cancer where the cancer cells don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors and also makes little of the HER2 protein. It grows and spreads faster than other forms of invasive breast cancer and accounts for about 10-15per cent of all breast cancers.
The fourth is . Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) – IBC occurs as a result of cancer cells blocking the lymph vessels in the skin and therefore making the breast look inflamed. It is a rare form of breast cancer and accounts for only about 1-5per cent of all breast cancers. Paget disease of the Breast is a type of cancer that affects the nipples and areola of the breast. It is a rare form of breast cancer and usually only affects one breast. The majority of cases are found along with ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive ductal carcinoma. Angiosarcoma of the Breast– This rare type of breast cancer begins in the cells lining blood and lymph vessels. It is said to often be the result of complications of previous breast radiation treatment and tend to grow and spread rapidly.
Phyllodes Tumor – This is a tumor that develops in the connective tissue of the breast. It is a rare form of breast cancer and mostly occurs in women in their 40s. Most phyllodes tumors are benign but 25per cent are malignant.
In the case of Nigerian women, breast cancer tends to be diagnosed at an advanced stage and the chances of survival are low (Adebamowo & Adekunle, 1999, Ihekwaba, 1992). Women in the country are also more frequently diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer than women of European ancestry (Huo et al., 2009), with cases occurring at a much younger age (Adesunkanmi et al., 2006). As a result of the late presentation of the disease, the only options available are expensive treatment procedures, which may be unaffordable for the average Nigerian woman.
Though there is a high incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria, studies have shown that the majority of Nigerian women, both in rural and urban areas possess little or no knowledge about risk factors and symptoms of the disease (Motilewa et al., 2015, Olayide et al., 2017). In cases where women are aware of these, there is hesitation in seeking healthcare which results in untimely death. Religious, economic and socio-cultural factors have shown to play a part in women’s attitude towards the disease (George et al., 2019, Pruitt et al., 2014). There is also a lack of knowledge on breast self-examinations (BSE) and who should conduct them, especially in rural areas (Nwaneri et al., 2016, Oladimeji et al., 2015).
Late Mrs. Beatrice Mensah Osae, the beloved mother of Amazing Grace Baaba Danso, was diagnosed in 2011 when she discovered a tumor in her left breast which grew bigger to the point it became inoperable. It burst and became an open sore on her chest and ate away her breast even claiming her nipple. She had three chemo treatments which weakened her greatly till she switched to homeopathic treatment. This helped her regain her strength a bit but ultimately she succumbed to the disease and passed in September 2016″ .
With the high incidence and mortality rate associated with breast cancer in low and middle income countries like Nigeria, there is a need for efforts to be made to create more awareness about the disease, especially among uneducated women and proper structures for early detection. With proper education of women in both rural and urban areas and affordable screening programmes developed, the chances of survival can be increased. Policies on the breast cancer detection and care also need to be developed and disseminated to aid healthcare workers make informed decisions.
Above all, early diagnosis which has been proven to improve survival chances, should be encouraged especially through the use of the media to spread the message of breast cancer, its signs and symptoms, causes as well as management procedures.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi
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