An Associate Dean for Climate and Diversity,at the department of Health Promotion and Community Health Science at the Texas A&M University-School of Public Health, Professor Lisako Mckyer has suggested to the Ghana health service to include aunties and grandmothers in their advocacy on exclusive breast feeding.
Targeting grandmothers and sisters of nursing mothers according to professor Lisako may significantly improve the breast feeding of toddlers for six months without giving them water, Professor Lisako said.
Health personnel at the ante-natal clinics in Ghana have been advising pregnant to breast feed their children without giving them water for a maximum of six months.
However, most nursing mothers at post-natal clinics insist they don’t give their toddlers water but were not sure if their mothers or aunties who bath their babies do it. Nurses who probed further found that babies are given water during bathing.
Sharing her experience in the Gambia and Senegal, professor Lisako said most nursing mothers will not do something their mothers or grandmothers do not approve.
She explained that women in Africa are doing their best in exclusive breast feeding because in the US there is a huge stigma against breast feeding. The breast feeding rate in the US is very low compared to the rest of the world because it is not the norm.
Professor Lisako who was speaking to Zaa News in Tamale that if the U.S is able to get 70% of women to try breast feeding just once, then the US is doing well. The number one predictor of U.S women willingness to breast feed and sustain it was the absence of support from their partners.
Single parenting among black women, professor Lisako said, is about 70% couple with unfair employment system. There is no medical and family needs and nursing mothers who are working have only six weeks maternal leave which sometimes without pay.
This, she said compelled many nursing mothers to return to work within two weeks. She described as unfair considering the wealth US has at her disposal. The lowest rate among black women who ever breast fed their children is about 33%.
She told Zaa News she breast fed her son for 18 months and her daughter for 15 months but it was difficult because people were asking why she breast-fed her toddlers for such a long time. "I was able to do that with my husband's support," professor Lisako said.
The formula companies, she added also give free products immediately a nurse mother leaves the hospital making it easy for single mothers to go about their normal duties without thinking of breast feeding.