The many benefits of breastfeeding

MANILA¬†‚Äď Ela Navarro, 37, decided to breastfeed her two children as soon as they were born because she wanted them to grow healthy and strong.

Nagsimula noong¬†November 2014¬†sa aking panganay na anak. Sinabi ko sa aking sarili na gusto ko na kapag ako ay nagka-anak kailanganbreastfeeding¬†ang mga anak ko. Bukod sa masustansya ang gatas ng ina, makakatipid pa ng malaki sa gastusin¬†(I started on November 2014 with my first born. I told myself that I will breastfeed them when I have my own kids. Apart from being nutritious, breast milk is inexpensive),” she told the Philippine News Agency (PNA ) in an inteview.

Navarro noticed that her children are not as plump as other children their age but they weigh heavy, noting that they don’t get infections or fever easily because they are breastfed.

Kristin Arranz, a pediatric consultant at The Medical City, said it is best for mothers to start breastfeeding their children as soon as they’re born.

“Ideally, we recommend pure breastfeeding at birth until two years old or as long as they can. This is why as part of Department of Health’s (DOH) program,¬†Unang Yakap, if the baby and mom is stable at delivery, we recommend non-separation of newborn from the mother and early latch on,” she said.

Arranz added that breastfeeding provides many health benefits to babies and mothers, stressing it gives a chance for babies and mothers to bond.

“With breastfeeding, the baby gets better immune protection from breast milk, thus, they seldom get sick and are more healthy. Less colic or kabag for the baby, economical for the family, less breast infection or mastitis for mommy if her breasts are emptied of milk right away,” she said.

Citing that breastfeeding should be a choice made by both parents, Arranz said, there are preparations mothers can do to make breastfeeding an enjoyable experience like eating malunggay and other green leafy vegetables and living a healthy lifestyle even prior to pregnancy.

Navarro said breastfeeding didn’t come easy for her when she had her first child.

Kelangan tiyagain lang talaga ang pagpapasuso sa bata at huwag panghinaan ng loob lalo na kung sa tingin mo na walang gatas na lumalabas. Kasi hindi kulang ang supply ng gatas kasi kung ano lang ang kailangan ng bata iyon lang ang nasisipsip niya¬†(You just got to have patience in breastfeeding and don’t lose heart if you think there’s not enough milk coming out of your breasts because your milk is never scarce your baby will suck only the amount he or she needs),” she said.

Arranz said successful breastfeeding can be achieved through the observance of related best practices – not providing newborns any food or fluids other than breastmilk, recognizing and responding to the baby’s cues for feeding, and maintaining breastfeeding despite common difficulties.

Early this month, around 2,000 breastfeeding mothers gathered at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City for Hakab Na! – an event organized by the group Breastfeeding Pinays in partnership with the DOH. They nursed their children all at the same time in celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness.

They also encouraged breastfeeding mothers to gather and hold their own breastfeeding events at home, at schools, in their communities and in their workplaces to create a “breastfeeding nation”.

“I attended¬†Hakab Na! kasi masaya¬†meeting a community with the same principles you live by.¬†Saktong masaya pero¬†the tribe makes it happier,” Jacquiline Magsalin said.

Magsalin added that it has been four years since she first attended Hakab Na! yet she learns a lot of new lessons whenever she attends like fighting for her breasfeeding rights “even if higher people in the society are against it”.

National Newborn Care and Infant and Young Child Feeding Program manager Anthony Calibo said the success of the breastfeeding campaign is anchored on the implementation of concerned health facilities.

Lalong-lalo na po sa mga paanakan kung ito man po ay¬†rural health unit, lying in clinic¬†o¬†isa pong napakalaking¬†hospital¬†o mga¬†medical centers¬†po natin, pare-pareho po yan na dapat po sa pag-papaanak. Kailangan simulan po ng tama ang pagpapasuso¬†(Especially in maternity clinics may this be a rural health unit, lying in clinic or a big hospital or medical centers, all of those should implement breastfeeding on mothers who gave birth) part of newborn care portocol, this is life saving, increases the chance of a successful breast feeding,” he said.

If a mother is having a difficulty in breastfeeding her child, Calibo said she can try “express breast milk” where the mother feeds her baby with her milk without latching.

“Kung ito pong dalawa na to ay may kakulangan, diyan po papasok yung tinatawag nating¬†donor breastmilk.¬†At kung ito po ay¬†sick new born, sick premature baby,¬†nandiyan din po papasok yung tinatawag nating¬†pasturized breastmilk (If there’s a lack of the two, the donor breast milk will come in. If there’s a sick newborn, sick premature baby, the pasturized breast milk will come in),” he said.

Republic Act 7600 or The Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992 promotes breastfeeding nationwide, mandating the government and private health institutions to lead the campaign.

Meanwhile, Republic Act 10028 or Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 mandates government and private companies to provide lactation stations for breastfeeding moms. (PNA)