Nutrition experts say breast milk of grandmothers is recommended for babies who cannot be breastfed by their biological mothers for whatever reason, noting that contrary to assumptions, women who are over 60 years can still produce breast milk and effectively breastfeed infants.
According to the experts, instead of feeding babies with an 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 experts, 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, stated 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 also noted 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 to start producing breast milk again.
Akinyinka, who is also the coordinator of the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, 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.
“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.”