Dr. Shivon Belle-Jarvis, Head of the Paediatric Department at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center, strongly advocates for the crucial importance of breastfeeding.
She believes that breastfeeding can be a powerful defence against various diseases, including breast cancer. Recent studies have shown that breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer before and after menopause.
Furthermore, if a mother continues to breastfeed beyond the recommended six months, it can offer even more excellent protection against this formidable disease.
Dr. Belle-Jarvis emphasizes that breast milk is often underestimated, and it’s called liquid gold for a reason.
Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for mothers, including assisting in returning to their pre-pregnancy weight, aiding in uterine contraction, reducing the incidence of postpartum depression, and lowering the risk of cancer.
Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for babies, as highlighted by Dr. Belle-Jarvis. These include better eye and brain health, higher IQ, lower risk of infections, reduced neo-natal mortality, and prevention of childhood obesity and other non-communicable diseases.
It is therefore highly recommended that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of their life and make it their primary source of nutrition. To promote breastfeeding, it is essential to eliminate practices such as supplementing with water, teas, cereals, and sugar water.
The Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the third hospital in the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to receive the ‘Baby-Friendly’ designation.
This recognition is awarded after a thorough evaluation conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was founded in 1991 with the aim of promoting, protecting, and supporting breastfeeding.
To meet the strict requirements for successful evaluation, the hospital implemented a National Infant and Child Feeding Policy introduced in Antigua and Barbuda in 2018.
Additionally, healthcare and non-healthcare staff receive training on breastfeeding and infant feeding to ensure that mothers and their infants receive complete support.