Nutrition stakeholders in Kaduna State on Tuesday celebrated Hajiya Amina Abubakar, a mother of five, who, against all odds, exclusively breastfed her triplets.
Abubakar was celebrated at Primary Healthcare Centre, Jaji, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State,
during a Health Facility Engagement Forum on Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF) Experience Sharing.
The event was supported by Alive and Thrive (fhi 360) as part of activities to commemorate the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) with the theme “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.”
The stakeholders include State Nutrition Officer, Accelerating Nutrition Result in Nigeria, Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan, and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Others were the Society for Family Health, National Orientation Agency, e-Health, and other government officials.
Narrating her experience, Abubakar of Amingo Junction, Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway, Kaduna, said that her first two children, a boy and a girl, were not exclusively breastfed.
She added that she was motivated to give it a try when she saw the child of her sister, looking strong and healthy because the baby was exclusively breastfed.
“I decided I will give it a try if I am blessed with another child, and when I became pregnant, I was so happy and looked forward to practicing exclusive breastfeeding.
“However, I became scared when the doctor told me that the babies are two, and even more scared when he said
I was carrying triplets, meaning I would not be able to exclusively breastfeed them.
“The triplets, two boys and a girl, were born premature through Caesarean Section in February 2019, and had to be incubated. At that point, I lost all hope of practicing exclusive breastfeeding.
“But I was encouraged by a nurse who assured me that I can do it, adding that with the breastmilk, the babies will be out of the incubator sooner than I expected.”
She said that the nurse helped her in expressing the breastmilk in a container and feeding the babies, adding that within two weeks, the babies were out of the incubator.
This, according to her, further convinced her husband, and other family members on the benefits and supported her to go on with the breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding the triplets was not easy because it took the whole of me. I had to learn to breastfeed two at a time and express the breastmilk to feed the other.
“I dedicated myself to eating well and breastfeeding the children, while coping with the sleepless nights and discouragement from other relatives and members of the community.
“I was accused of being cruel to the babies by refusing to give them water, and sometimes the criticism gets to me, and I will feel like giving up,” she added.
Abubakar said that with the support of her husband, her immediate family and health workers, she remained firm, resolute and continued up till six months.
“The result is incredible, as you can see, they are healthy, adorable, and very intelligent.
“Infact, since they were removed from the incubator, I have never been to the hospital with them on account of ill health, except for immunisation and they are over two years now.
“This is more than I ever hoped for. I am happy. I thank God. I thank everyone that helped me.”
Mrs Hauwa Sani, the Facility-In-Charge, said that Abubakar’s courage and determination were exemplary, having been able to exclusively breastfeed three children for six months.
“This is very rare and highly commendable, and I hope other women will see reasons to also practice exclusive breastfeeding. All a woman needs is to eat good food and take plenty of fluids,” she said.
Earlier, Mrs Sarah Kwasu, the Team Lead, Alive and Thrive, explained that the experience sharing was organised to convince lactating mothers that exclusive breastfeeding was possible even with triplets.
Kwasu said that the goal was for lactating mothers, parents and caregivers to see and hear first-hand how Abubakar was able to do it, saying that “if she can do it, then anyone can do it.”
The State Nutrition Officer, Mrs Ramatu Haruna, commended the mother of the triplets for insisting on exclusive breastfeeding, adding that “the breastmilk provides the ideal nutrition for infants.”
According to her, breastmilk has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything a baby needs to grow strong and healthy.
Also, the State Coordinator, NAFDAC, Mr Nasiru Mato, advised lactating mothers against baby formula, also known as Breast Milk Substitute (BMS), which he described as “inferior” to breastmilk.