Babies who cannot be breastfed by their mothers, should be breastfed by their grandmothers as it is better than baby formula, Nutritionists have recommended.
The experts say instead of feeding babies with infant formula, surrogate nursing – either by a grandmother or any other woman – should be instituted for babies whose mothers have died or have health complications that make breastfeeding impossible.
The nutritionists– a Consultant Public Health Physician at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Modupe Akinyinka, and a Registered Dietician-Nutritionist at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nwabumma Asouzu – said elderly grandmothers can still produce milk.
The two experts said that it is very possible for grandmothers as old as 60 years to start a re-lactation process and recover the ability to produce breast milk, under some kind of training.
They explained that breast milk is produced from the brain, stressing that, if a grandmother develops the passion, willingness and love for a child, the brain has hormones that are able to make her start producing breast milk again.
Speaking to Punch HealthWise, Dr. Akinyinka said grandmothers could still resume breastfeeding after many years of childbearing, provided they are healthy.
The physician explained, “Breast milk is definitely better than infant formula”. If the mother of a baby is unable to breastfeed because she is not there anymore, then if we can get somebody else that can assist in giving that breast milk, that would definitely benefit the child than a formula. She said:
“A grandmother can assist in breastfeeding the baby. But it is required that she is healthy and does not have an illness that the child has a possibility of contracting.
“So, grandmothers can still produce breast milk and breastfeed babies, irrespective of their age. If the breast milk starts to flow, they have to be taking a lot of fluids.
“Once the grandmother is well-nourished and properly fed, the breast milk will still be of high quality.”