Malawi Nutritionist advises working mothers to pump breast milk for their babies
Sylvester Kathumba, a Principal Nutritionist at the Ministry of Health in Malawi, has advised working mothers, and those who for some reasons are not able to always be available for their babies, to pump breast milk for them to replace milk substitutes.
Mr. Kathumba (and as most researchers have proved) says that breast milk has all the necessary nutrients that a baby requires to grow healthy and strong.
He says that formula milk, which most mothers have opted for now days, can be hard for the babies to digest since the baby’s digestive system is immature and unable to break down all the particles contained in the formula milk
The Nutritionist emphasized that if a mother pumps breast milk, the baby can be able to enjoy the benefits of breast milk, even in circumstances that the baby is not able to suckle from the mother’s breast, or if the mother will not be available all the time.
According to the Nutritionist, the mother can pump the milk out of the breast for the baby’s storage by either using their hands, a manual pump or an electric pump.
Following the 2016 Demographic Health Survey findings, Malawi’s number of exclusively breast fed babies has dropped from 71 per cent to 61 percent.
“The drop in the number of breastfed babies is a set back to the goal of Malawi vision 2020 which seeks at attaining sustainable economic and social development, food security and nutrition improvement, most importantly end infant mortality which is at 42 in every one thousand babies,” said Sylvester Kathumba.
At this point, Mlezi Tsilizani, the Chairperson and founder of a group called “pumping the way to go”, appreciated Kathumba’s advice and added that pumped milk can be kept for four days in a refrigerator, four months in the freezer and six hours at room temperature, without going bad.
“Milk should be stored in small quantities measuring what a baby can be able to finish in one feeding, and storing in small quantities allows for easy thawing and warming,” she said.
Mlezi Tsilizani however discouraged mothers from freezing the pumped breast milk saying it destroys some of the antibodies in it, which are essential for the baby to fight infections.
She nevertheless added that the frozen milk is still healthier for the baby than the formula milk.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers. It is especially critically advised during the first six months of the baby. This helps to prevent pneumonia and diarrhea, the two major causes of death in babies.
Reporter: Shamilah Namuddu