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Importance of breastfeeding immediately after birth

Murang’a County Nutrition Officer, Nancy Waitherero has emphasized on the importance of breast feeding within one hour of birth.

Speaking during the launch of the breastfeeding week at Sabasaba market in Murang’a County, Waitherero sensitized the public on the importance of breast feeding within an hour of birth as well as exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months saying breast milk is crucial for well-being in children.

“Breast milk contains all the nutrients a child needs and the child should therefore start breastfeeding within an hour after birth,” Waitherero said.

“The child should then be breastfed exclusively for the first six months and should continue breastfeeding up to two years,” she added.

The nutritionist stated that breastfeeding coupled with proper nutrition in childhood gives the child a healthy start in life by building their immunity against many childhood diseases and lifestyle diseases later in life.

“After the first six months, the child should be given different food types daily to ensure they get the nutrients they require,” she advised.

Children below five years should get vitamin A supplements every six months as well as all the recommended vaccinations and deworming.

Waitherero also said that pregnant mothers should visit health facilities for at least 4 antenatal clinics starting as soon as they become pregnant.

The world breastfeeding week is commemorated every first week of August but was brought forward this year because of the general elections.

In Murang’a the celebrations were held together with the malezi bora week which is a bi-annual event aimed at sensitizing the public on the importance of good nutrition.

Murang’a County has partnered with Nutrition International (NI) to ensure all children under the age of five receive the recommended doses of vitamin A supplements.

NI county programs coordinator Charles Nderitu lauded all stakeholders especially community health volunteers and Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers for their various roles in ensuring the children get the crucial vitamins supplements.

The Murang’a County Health Management Team (CHMT) in a statement read by health administrator George Ngari, underscored the importance of breast feeding saying that exclusively breastfed children are at a lower risk of contracting diseases and that breastfeeding paired with proper nutrition reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases later in life.

According to the CHMT the county breastfeeding rates are at 88 per cent which is higher than the national average of 61 per cent and called upon all stakeholders to support, promote and protect breastfeeding.

By Purity Mugo and Anita Omwenga

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