Health experts encourage mothers to breastfeed up to six months

By: Joanne Namnama G. Parrocha, PIA 1, La Union

SAN FERNANDO CITY – Exclusive breastfeeding from birth up to six months can ensure optimum growth and development of babies, health experts said.

Regina M. Pagaspas, of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), said an infant only needs breast milk which requires full breastfeeding during the six month-period.

“Infants should be breastfed up to six months and be given appropriate complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for two years and beyond,” said Pagaspas.

Results of the latest National Nutrition Survey by the FNRI showed that Filipino mothers have shortened the duration of breastfeeding their babies to less than 3 months.

“Some mothers complain that they do not have enough milk forcing them to give milk formula and other liquids to their infants,” Pagaspas said.

However, FNRI encourages mothers that sucking reflex during breastfeeding signals the hormone to produce more milk and the more frequent the mother breastfeeds, the more milk is produced.

“Mothers should be taught not to give up at once on breastfeeding even if they are having difficulty in increasing their milk flow,” Pagaspas said.

In response, the Department of Health in Ilocos strengthened efforts to transforming all health facilities to become mother-baby friendly hospitals.

Leny Calagua, nutritionist dietician of DOH-1 said the Mother-Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (MBFHI) is aimed to promote breastfeeding in both private and government-owned health facilities.

The campaign is pursuant to Republic Act 7600 otherwise known as the

“Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992 which requires newborn infants to be put to the breast of the mother immediately after birth and forthwith roomed-in within thirty minutes.

“There are 24 government-owned accredited mother-baby friendly hospitals in Region 1,” said Calagua.

She also said that Lorma Medical Center in La Union is the sole private health facility accredited in promoting mother-baby friendly practices.

Further, Calagua cited benefits breastfeeding provides to both the mother and her child.

“Breastfeeding can benefit mothers because they can avoid breast cancer and ovarian cancer and helps their uterus go back to its original size,” said Calaguas.

Accordingly, babies exclusively breastfed are protected from infections such as diarrhea, pneumonia and other chronic illnesses.

“Through breastfeeding, mothers can provide the best anti-body to their children,” Calaguas said.#