The Benefits: Breastfeeding Is Bar None In Terms of Nutrition and Bonding
In 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics officially advocated breastfeeding in a public statement. The Academy cited that breast milk is superior to any kind of formula, protects the baby from infections and other diseases and recommended that babies be breastfed exclusively up to six months or beyond.
Apart from pure nutrition, breastfeeding provides your baby with an experience of the first relationship in his or her life. Breastfeeding allows a mother to reassure her baby of her unconditional love and presence. This forms the foundation of a child’s development and later independence in life.
The Barriers: Lack of Information, Time and Commitment
But why do a lot of women end up not breastfeeding despite all the benefits? In the Philippines, only 34% of mothers end up exclusively breastfeeding their babies in their first six months of life.
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1. Lack of Information
The top reason is really a lack of information. If a mother thinks that formula is “just as good” as mother’s milk, then she will not have second thoughts about giving her baby formula.
Secondly, because breast milk is easily absorbed by the baby’s body, breastfeeding takes up every two to three hours of a mother’s day, leaving no other activity for her. If a mother needs to return to work right away, which is the usual case in the Philippines, she gives up breastfeeding.
A working mother needs to invest her time in collecting milk for her baby three to four times during her eight-hour work day. If she is extremely busy, she needs to invest in a pump that can extract more milk in less time. Apart from collecting the milk, she needs to properly store the milk in a sterile container and in the proper temperature, requiring a refrigerator or an ice box.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful mother-child experience. It provides the absolute best in terms of nutritional and emotional nourishment, equalizing rich and poor infants. However, breastfeeding also demands time and commitment from mothers. In the end, it is up to a mother to decide what is best for her child.