Breastfeeding: The Benefits Extend Well Beyond Nutrition


If every child was breast-fed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, an estimated 500,000 child lives would be saved in Nigeria every year. Nigeria has the 10th highest infant mortality rate so every effort must be made to reduce this.

Based on the number of lives breastfeeding can save, the World Health Organization has given the following recommendations:

  • Children should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives
  • Complementary food should be introduced at six months
  • Breastfeeding should be continued for 12 to 24 months

Outside of intensifying the mother-child bond, breastfeeding is beneficial to babies in so many ways as it:

Provides optimal nutrition – Breast milk is a unique combination of nutrients essential to a child’s health. The nutrients even change over time to meet the needs of the baby

Strengthens the immune system – Human milk contains maternal antibodies that are passed from the mother to the baby. Breast-fed infants therefore gain extra protection through antibodies, other proteins and immune cells in human milk, that fortify the baby with disease-fighting substances and protect them from illness.

Lowers risk of obesity – Breastfeeding reduces the risk of becoming overweight as a teen or adult vs. formula.

Enhances brain development – Studies suggest a relationship between breast feeding and mental development. This effect appears strongest with prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding.

Lowers risk for allergies – In the early days of breastfeeding, the milk contains colostrum. This helps prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to the baby’s intestinal tract.

Reduces risk of SID – Exclusive or partial breastfeeding reduces risk of Sudden Infant Death (SID). It has been recommended that breastfeeding should be done for as long as possible.

Lowers risk of diabetes – Evidence shows that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of type 1 and type 2 diabetes later in life.

Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease – Breastfeeding may provide a protective effect against several cardiovascular risk factors e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, and others.

Before you think breastfeeding is only beneficial to children, you should know that women who breastfeed for at least 6 months decrease their risk of ovarian cancer Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, osteoporosis and post-partum depression.

While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it certainly seems the best option for every baby.

Below The Belt: Undescended Testes

Avon - Undescended testes

Such joy it brings when a child is born! All children are a blessing however we cannot deny the patriarchal value our society places on male children. Fathers understandably want the family name to live on for another generation, but this may not be possible if the young son is himself unable to have children.

Reproductive health is a topic we are uncomfortable discussing and is certainly the last thing on one’s mind when a child is born. However, undescended testes is a common childhood condition that affects 1 in 25 new born boys and, if left untreated can cause testicular cancer or infertility.

What is Undescended testes?

Undescended testes, or cryptorchidism, is where a boy is born without one or both testicles in his scrotum. Testicles (testes) are the male sex glands that produce sperm and sex hormones. For them to develop and function normally, they need to be slightly cooler than normal body temperature. This is why they are usually located in the scrotum (outside the body). In cases of undescended testicles, one or both testicles are lodged in the groin or lower abdomen.

Undescended testes are the most common congenital abnormality in boys. Four percent of all new born boys are affected with the rate increasing to 30% in cases of premature delivery or low birth weight.

How is it caused?

The cause is unknown though it is thought to occur when the normal development of the testicles is disrupted. In addition to prematurity and low birth rate, other factors that may increase the risk of undescended testicles include pre-natal alcohol use, pre-natal smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke, gestational diabetes mellitus and a family history of the condition.

How does one check for it?

Undescended testes are usually diagnosed soon after the baby is born or during a routine check-up when they are 6 – 8 weeks old. The main sign is not seeing or feeling a testicle in the scrotum.

Can it be treated?

In 80% of cases, the testes will move down into the scrotum naturally by the time the child is 3 – 6 months old. For some, this may not happen until the child is 6 – 12 months old. If the testes do not descend by time the child is 1 year old, it is very unlikely they will do so without treatment.

Treatment usually involves surgically repositioning the testicle into the scrotum.

Is treatment necessary?

Without treatment, there is an increased risk of testicular cancer, infertility, testicular torsion (where the testicles twist so much that the blood supply is cut off), hernia and trauma.

So, while basking in the euphoria of having your new born son, be sure to check more than the five senses. Don’t forget to look further down.

8 Embarrassing Pregnancy Questions Answered


If you are carrying around another human being, you deserve the freedom please ask embarrassing pregnancy questions. Ask your doctors, friends and anyone else who cares to listen without a hint of shame.

With all the changes your body is going through, hormonal or otherwise, it sometimes feels like it’s taken on a mind of its own. Understanding what’s going on at every stage of your pregnancy is what will keep you and your spouse reassured during the entire journey. You’re not alone.

Questions commonly asked include:

Will I still be able to control my bladder after pregnancy?

Your bladder control may be affected but you should regain full control after the first three weeks to six months of childbirth. If you still have problems after this period, visit your doctor.

Why do I get serious indigestion and gas?

It is common to experience bloating, constipation and indigestion during pregnancy. This is because there are higher levels of progesterone in the body. This hormone relaxes the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract which in turns slows down digestion which can lead to gas.

Later in your pregnancy, your uterus grows, shifts your intestines and crowds your abdomen. This further slows digestion and pushes on your stomach and increases the feeling of being bloated.

If you suffer from these embarrassing symptoms, there are a few things you can do for relief.

  • Move about. Provided your doctor has given you the ok, exercise can help stimulate digestion and get things moving along.
  • Avoid foods that may cause gas e.g. fried or fatty foods.
  • Watch what you drink. Drink from a cup or glass ­– not from a bottle or through a straw – and avoid carbonated drinks.
  • Don’t eat big meals. Try several small meals throughout the day.

Can having sex affect my baby?

This is a concern shared by many expecting parents. Every pregnancy is different however there is no medical evidence to suggest that any harm will come to your baby during sex.

However, at certain stages of pregnancy, you may be advised not to have sex especially if you have a history of miscarriage or premature labour, or if you have a low-lying placenta.

Will my sex life be different after childbirth?

Some couples may have issues enjoying sex and intercourse may be painful. If your vagina is dry, this may be caused by a number of factors – post-pregnancy hormonal changes, your body may still be sore from childbirth or even breastfeeding (which can cause a reduction in vaginal lubrication)

It’s important to communicate these physiological changes to your partner so he understands and dealth experts recommend the use of lubricants to ease friction during this time. Always speak to your doctor if sex is still painful after several weeks.

Will I poop during labour?

This can happen if the rectum is full during labour, and pressure is placed. Don’t worry because everyone present in the labour room will be more interested in bringing out the baby safely than anything else. The midwives have seen it all, trust us.

What if my water breaks in public?

Everyone has watched at least one or two hilarious movie scenes with torrents of water pouring down as the pregnant star exclaims “My water has broken!” in public. The chances of such volumes occurring in real life, however, are pretty slim. You can instead expect continuous trickling of fluid, of which you can simply excuse yourself if in public.

Would “down there” stay expanded?

There is likely to be an expansion after childbirth, but for how long depends on a number of factors – genetics, your baby’s size and the number of children had in the past. Regular Kegel exercises should help with tightening over time, as well as certain surgical procedures you can speak to your doctor about.

Where is all this body odour coming from?

Again, it’s the hormones. Your body’s metabolism has also gone into extra gear, hence the increased sweating that causes the odour in the first place. Simply double up on deodorants and showers and you will be good to go.

We hope these help.

Fortunately, you and other pregnant mums-to-be never have to go through the journey bewildered. The Avon HMO team is always there to hold your hand and guide you from start to finish, covering your prenatal visit and delivery costs and sending useful health tips along the way.

Enjoy the process!

Sources:, Web MD and BabyCentre