Saint Lucia: Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Ministry has commenced its breastfeeding awareness campaign with a workshop held at the Ciceron Wellness Centre catering to pregnant women and nursing mothers.
The participants of this workshop were from the communities of Ti-Rocher Castries, Bexon, Ciceron and Entrepot.
The breastfeeding workshop was aimed at educating and empowering pregnant women and nursing mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding their babies.
Family Life Educator in the Bureau of Health Education Shirlan Edward says this activity is necessary given that the ministry is committed to improving breastfeeding levels in the country.
“The reason why we are having the workshop is to encourage persons or educate persons on the importance of breastfeeding. As we at the ministry realize, our numbers for breastfeeding are very low. Persons start breastfeeding when the babies are born, and we realize they stop before the first six months. So, we want to educate them on the importance. We are supporting them, which is part of the theme to let them know we are supporting them right through the process from 0 to 6 months and even beyond, two years old.”
Public Health Nursing Supervisor Bernadette Felix-Regis says the ministry supports exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months especially given the benefits to a child’s development and health. Therefore, pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to support this movement.
“Children who are exclusively breastfed perform well with numbers. They do well in Mathematics, and generally, they tend to fall sick less. So, there are several benefits for both mother and baby when they breastfeed and breastfeed exclusively. When we speak of exclusive breastfeeding, we speak of only breast milk for at least six months. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has mentioned that exclusive breastfeeding goes up to 6 months: no water, no formula, nothing else except breast milk. The only thing the baby is allowed to take during that time is medication.”
Edward also spoke on the benefits of breastfeeding to the mother and the child.
“Breastfeed is important for mother. As a mother, when she breastfeeds, her womb goes back into place, so it goes back to the normal size when she is breastfeeding, and it contracts and goes back to its normal size. Also, breastfeeding is economical. The mother can save money during this time when she is breastfeeding because she does not have to buy any formula. For a child, it protects the child from infection. It also protects the child from chronic non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. It is the best nutrition for the baby as the best start the baby needs.”
The breastfeeding workshop entailed presentations on the benefits of breastfeeding, proper latching of the breast and a Lamaze session.
In the coming weeks, the Health Ministry will be undertaking breastfeeding awareness workshops in other communities around the island.