A fresh indication has emerged that the cultural practice of consuming palm wine or pap by nursing mothers does not enhance the flow of breast milk.
This was the submission of a physician, Dr Agnes Nwoke, who works with St. Charles Clinic in Urum, on Saturday in Awka on the sideline of the commemoration of 2021 World Breastfeeding Week.
The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”.
The physician said there was the need to demystify the myth about the effect of palm wine or pap on breastfeeding.
According to her, breast milk production obeys the law of demand and supply.
“It is not the amount of fluid taken via pap or palm wine, it is the intensity of suckling and time of suckling that helps the nursing mother to produce more milk.
“The more the breast is emptied, the more it produces or flows with milk.
“Also mothers should breastfeed more at night because the hormone called prolactin functions more at night as it contributes to high flow of breast milk,” she said.
Nwoke said that palm wine contained alcohol on the average up to six per cent, saying it might have sedative effects that can make mothers and even babies sleep.
“When a nursing mother takes palm wine, the alcohol in the palm wine gets into the breast milk and it can make the baby be agitated or sleep and unable to suck.
“Palm wine does not enhance the flow of breast milk, it is a cultural practice, not medically proven.
“Breast flow is, however, increased by staying hydrated, eating a well-balanced diet, putting baby to breast on demand, resting and having enough sleep.
“Breastfeeding is important for the optimal nourishment, immunity, growth and development of the infant, “Nwoke said.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a recent statement highlighted ways to support mothers to have adequate breast milk production after delivery.
The statement urged health workers to encourage women to take plenty of water during pregnancy and lactation as well as examine and encourage breast care during pregnancy.
It said that health workers should help mothers put their babies to breasts within one hour of delivery and ensure suckling until breast milk starts flowing.
It also discouraged giving water or any fluid or infant formula to babies in the first six months, saying that breast milk is a complete food that contains all the water the baby needs in the first six months of life.