August just gone but we hope that the essence of breastfeeding awareness month celebration instilled in the minds of everyone. That breastfeeding is the norm and the best and complete food for babies.
Choosing how a mother will feed her baby is one of the most important decisions she will make. There is no other natural food in the world than breastmilk and no other natural choice than breastfeeding. Breastmilk is the perfect, irreplaceable gift a mother can give to her baby.
Here are some of the reasons why breastfeeding is beneficial to both a mother and her child:
- Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses and reduces the likelihood of allergies.
- Breastmilk saves money. Given the fact that breastmilk is practically free, there will be no need for mothers to spend money to buy expensive infant formulas and feeding equipment.
- Breastmilk prevents diarrhea, the leading cause of infant death in developing countries.
- Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.
- Breastfeeding promotes a special loving bond between mother and baby. Inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes continues to undermine efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and duration worldwide.
- Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life.
- Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Despite the known benefits of breastfeeding, many mothers do not breastfeed their children. According to the 2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS), although early breastfeeding initiation and exclusive breastfeeding were common feeding practices, the rate of exclusively breastfeeding until 5.9 months was low at 35.9%, with an average of 4.4 months of breastfeeding duration. Infants are at risk of malnutrition due to suboptimal breastfeeding practices.
Breastfeeding is a core part of “getting it right” in terms of nutrition in the First 1,000 Days. It is during the first 1000 days of life when growth faltering happens, and it is globally recognized as the “golden window of opportunity” to develop children to their full potential. The period from conception to just before the child's second birthday impacts on the child's growth, mental development, and health and ultimately the country's economy. Failure to breastfeed infants at this critical time may result to the irreversible effects of undernutrition such as stunting.
Thus, ensuring proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days is critical for the child's growth and development. Long-term health outcomes from proper care and nutrition in the first 1000 days are: children perform better in school, they are more likely to be employed in high-skilled jobs and have higher income in adult life, and they are less likely to be malnourished as they grow older.
We challenge our present and future parents, don’t miss the opportunity to give your lovely babies the best milk which is breastmilk. Always keep in mind Kumainment No. 2: Sa unang 6 months ni baby, breastfeeding lamang; mulas 6 months, bigyan din siya ng ibang angkop na pagkain.
- 2019 ENNS
- 2021 Nutrition Month Talking Points
Development Management Officer II - Claribel Catinguel