Breastfeeding is a daunting job, much like motherhood itself. And it is a struggle, but definitely one that can be overcome. Many have been advocating breastfeeding, and there have been many efforts to encourage other moms to nurse their young. Most play on its benefits: “Breast is best,” the studies have proven—from passing on antibodies to help your baby fight illnesses to the emotional bond you develop with your baby. One new campaign though emphasizes on the importance of a breastfeeding mom’s diet.
“You child is what you eat.” That is the slogan of a breastfeeding campaign of the Brazilian Pediatric Society of Rio Grande (SPRS). It aims to raise the awareness of mothers about the importance of eating healthy during the pregnancy and lactation. “We know that whatever happens to the child will have major impact on the type of adult that [he] will be,” says SPRS president Patricia Miranda Lake.
The ads feature a photo of a mom breastfeeding her child. On one of her breasts, where a child is nursing, are photos of unhealthy foods such as a burger, a donut, and a glass of soda. On the other breast, you’ll see the slogan and a phrase which reads “Your habits in the first thousand days of gestation can prevent your child from developing serious diseases.” The ads have been put up in some hospitals and clinics since Monday, September 21.
Cristina Targa Ferreira, M.D., vice president of SPRS and coordinator of the campaign, stresses, “Proper nutrition of the pregnant woman and the child will be very important for the development of the individual in the future. We want this campaign to help educate mothers and parents about the importance of this fact. Thus, in 20 years we will have healthier adults. It is proven that what happens in the first one thousand days interferes in our future.”
The idea behind the campaign is based on a study by associate professor of pediatrics and molecular geneticist Robert A. Waterland of the USDA-ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas. His study, published in the journal Genome Biology in March 2015, found that a mother’s healthy diet during her pregnancy can help her baby develop a gene variant that can protect kids from cancer later in life.
The ads, while shocking, drive home a point. However, some found it too extreme.
In an article on Smartparenting.com.ph, Abbie Venida-Yabot, a lactation counselor certified by the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and a La Leche League Leader, says that there are no special diets when you are breastfeeding. "However, when you feel a dip in your supply, avoid all the bad stuff: foods that are rich in sugar, salt, and fat," she says.
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Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics, in its New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition, states that “the mammary glands and cells that produce milk also help regulate how much of what you eat and drink actually reaches your baby.” So in small amounts, a cup of tea is totally okay for breastfeeding mothers to consume.
"Campaign SPRS underscores the importance of breastfeeding" (sprs.com) September 17, 2015. “New Breastfeeding Campaign Shames Moms For Eating Junk Food” (popsugar.com) September 16, 2015. “Breastfeeding Campaign Focusing On Unhealthy Diets Warns Mothers: 'Your Child Is What You Eat'” (huffingtonpost.co.uk) "Breastmilk and Your Diet: What Affects The Content of My Breast Milk" (healthychildren.org)