Campaign for breastfeeding heightened

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 July) – Although 86 percent of mothers in Region XI breastfeed their newborn babies, the percentage is declining as the months progress, according to Terry Cungson, regional officer of the National Nutrition Council (NNC).

In a press conference today, Cungson discussed the need to foster a supportive environment for breastfeeding mothers.

“Many young mothers are keen on breastfeeding their babies but they stop after two months. That’s because maternity leave usually ends after that. And when they go back to their workplace, there is no support system that will encourage them to continue breastfeeding so they turn to formula instead,” she said.

According to Cungson, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment are currently conducting dialogues with establishments to provide breastfeeding breaks to moms and refrigerators in the offices where mothers can store their breast milk.

Hanna Cano, a breastfeeding mother who works for an insurance company, identifies misinformation as main reason why mothers stop breastfeeding. “Many mothers believe that their milk is lacking when they actually have enough. They also think that formula is more convenient,” she said.

“Despite trainings and information dissemination about breastfeeding done by the Department of Health, many regard breastfeeding not as a natural process between mother and child but as an option instead. Moms worry about their children not getting full when breastfed. On the contrary, that’s when their children get the best,” says Joefel Carreon, another breastfeeding mother who runs her own business.

She said that what mothers do now is create their own support group to address their needs, building their own milk bank and work through simple support groups.

“Things like these are very doable for moms and for the government if they’re really serious about breastfeeding campaign. Formulas can produce ads, we should also do it with breastfeeding,” adds Carreon.

Elsie Mae Solidum, provincial science and technology officer of the Department of Science and Technology, concedes that the campaign must also organize support systems. “Currently, we have a milk bank at the Southern Philippines Medical Center and in Tagum but those are only for babies in the hospital. We could discuss more of this. And we also have initial plans to communicate with the business sector about this,” she said.

The heightened campaign for breastfeeding is among the eight updates from the National Nutrition Council under the NEA Aguila Onse, an information dissemination arm of the DOST and the NNC. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan / MindaNews)