Breast Is Best
Breast Is Best
August 1st to the 7th is World Breast Feeding Week. As a mom, I insisted on breast feeding my children. I remember fondly the discussions my mother and I had about this subject before my daughter, Jennifer, was born. Mom grew up in a generation where breast feeding was frowned upon. She still had a negative stigma about me breast feeding. This attitude was especially surprising since my father is a physician. Thankfully, today the data is out and most mothers do breast feed.
Breast milk is best for a baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. We moms know how it helped us lose those extra pounds after giving birth, not to mention how it strengthened the bond with our baby. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.
Study after study show that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen. Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no solid food, formula, or water) for at least six months seems to offer the most protection.
Here in the Philippines, breast feeding is extremely crucial. ‘One in every four children under five years of age is stunted globally,’ reports the National Nutrition Survey. Eighty percent of these children live in just 14 countries, mostly in Asia. The challenge is even greater because this pattern is not immediately visible. It’s effects are measured over years, not days. No matter how severe the effects of chronic malnutrition are, the true is that it is still preventable.
One of the ways these irreversible effects can be prevented from ever occurring is to ensure that babies get the right nutrition. The World Health Organization (WHO) said, ‘nutrition interventions can be done during the first 1,000 days of a child.’
A couple key factors in ensuring the best health for mothers and children alike were determined by research done at Save The Children. Number one on its list is Breastfeeding!!! According to pediatricians, breast milk is the “cheapest medicine” a child can get. A mothers milk provides key micronutrients needed to ensure successful cognitive and physical growth in a child. In the Philippines, exclusive breastfeeding is highly encouraged during the first six months of a child’s life so the risk of malnutrition is lessened.
Prevention is definitely better than trying to cure a problem. Our healthcare system is far cheaper when the focus can be here. Treating disease especially malnutrition is so costly.
In closing, I challenge each of you moms to be an advocate on breast feeding. Reach out to a pregnant family member or friend to ensure this important story of mother’s milk is understood.