Legazpi City. Ang mga sanggol ay hindi dapat makaranas ng gutom. Ito ay isang mahalagang mensahe na kailangan tandaan ng mga magulang para sa kalusugan ni Baby. Ang breastfeeding ang pinaka simpleng solusyon dahil hindi na kailangan pang maghanda ng kahit ano, pinakaligtas dahil ito ay masustansiya at walang preservatives, pinakamatipid dahil hindi na ito kailangan bilhin pa, at pinakapraktikal dahil kahit nagtratrabaho ang nanay ay maari pa rin mapasuso ang anak. Subalit, marami pa rin sa mga nanay ang hindi sang-ayon sa kahalagahan ng Eksklusibong pagpasuso sa sanggol. Sa isang pagtitipon ng mga mommy ay aming naitanong ang kanilang mga experiences sa pagpapasuso. At mayroon isang nanay na nagsasabi “nagpundo na akong magpasuso ta wara naman nagluluwas na gatas pagpinipisil ko ang sakuyang dodo” (I stopped breastfeeding because no milk comes out when I press my breast). This is a statement often heard from mothers when topic on breastfeeding is being discussed.
Based on the 2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS), breastfeeding practices among Filipino mother declines as the child grows. The trend of exclusive breastfeeding also decreases and is closely associated with the increasing rate of stunting when it reaches the age of 8 months old and above, and this warrants a call for action from everyone. Also shown in the 2019 ENNS result, despite the awareness that breastfeeding is the best nutrition for the little ones, mothers still opt to stop breastfeeding because of misconceptions, beliefs, and lack of support from the family and community.
One can champion the challenges of breastfeeding if she has the right information and proper knowledge on breastfeeding. As a common saying goes “Great power comes great responsibility.” Really, it has great results in the child’s growth however it also requires hard work and determination to achieve optimal outcome. There is a common scenario when mother and baby come home after completing the breastfeeding initiation and other protocols in the hospital during birth. Relatives will surround the newborn baby giving the mother advises and well wishes. Often, baby will cry continuously even after breastfeeding from both breasts. Some relatives will suggest top up formula because of beliefs that baby is not satisfied with breastmilk, or breasts aren’t big enough to produce milk, or foods eaten by the mother has stopped breastmilk production etc. Mother ends up anxious for fear that baby doesn’t get enough milk and introduces bottle feeding.
This indicates that more mothers and caregivers were not informed or do not have deep understanding of breastfeeding. Thus, it is vital that intensive campaign be continued for proper latching, positioning, indications of enough breastmilk intake, growth spurts, “lungad” or regurgitation, lactation during illness especially during COVID-19 pandemic, and many more to correct misinformed Filipino mothers.
In Bicol, the campaign on EKsklusibo Pagpapasuso has been the goal of the annual Hakab Na! since 2017 initiated by DOH and likewise, by Breastfeeding Bicolanas. This breastfeeding support group was trained by Arugaan in 2017 for Lactation Counselling and Lactation Massage. The team’s campaign started out informing and assisting mothers about proper latching, exclusive breastfeeding, and Tamang Kain in hospital wards of Bicol Medical Center. Recently, they paved the way to Arugaan, a non-government organization to come to Bicol on February 2020 and provide a 2-day intensive training among nurses, midwives and instructors on the “Art of Lactation Counselling and Massage”. Presently, more Lactation Counsellors can reach Bicolanos, especially the mother volunteers, nurses from the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), and those from private hospitals in Albay who underwent and graduated from the training. Even amidst this pandemic, this group together with World Vision, ADRA, JCI, CHD-Bicol and the NNC RO V, continues to extend their time and expertise especially among Barangay Nutrition Scholars, Health Workers and mothers from areas to campaign for and promote breastfeeding, relactation, and Tamang Kain.
It is true that we are faced with both the challenge to educate mothers on breastfeeding and prevent stunting, but the days are coming by with the increasing number of helping hands. In the most recently concluded Nutrition Month and Breastfeeding Awareness Month celebrations, we were taught of ways and means to fight malnutrition and prevent stunting. In your own little way, how would you like to contribute to this undertaking? Go and connect with your Barangay Nutrition Scholar or Barangay Health Workers and together, let us ensure that all babies get the best milk, nothing but breastmilk! (KBB/MCV/ARR/NNC RO V)