MANILA, Philippines - Breast-feeding is free, healthy, and--brace yourself--can be done anywhere and anytime.
Take it from the moms shown at a photo exhibit breast-feeding their children in different places and situations. After all, breast-feeding is part of everyday life.
Breast-feeding, according to an advocacy group, is a "natural, normative, positive and healthy part of everyday life at home, in the community, and in the workplace."
These proud moms' photos are available at a photo exhibit dubbed "Spotted: Mommy, Mama, Inay and Me" at the second floor Pavilion, Entertainment Mall, SM Mall of Asia, ongoing until November 26.
Few enjoy natural
Going by the available statistics, very few babies were fed mommy's natural milk.
Only 49.3% of infants under 2 months old were exclusively breast-fed, according to the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) released in 2008.
Of infants between 4-5 months old, only 26% were exclusively breast-fed. And of those aged 6 months old and above, only 2% were breast-fed with or without complementary food.
Experts said breast-feeding complemented with food is ideal for children aged 6 months and older.
"The MDG-F joint program on Children Food Security and Nutrition aims to increase exclusive breast-feeding rate in the country by 20% annually,” said Flores.
Natural and healthy
Breast-feeding is also "the standard for feeding a newborn," said Health Assistant Secretary Maria-Bernardita T. Flores, Executive Director of National Nutrition Council. "It is important for the welfare of the mother and the baby, the family, the community, and the nation."
"Breast milk contains all the nutrients that a baby needs, and protects the mother’s health. It is easily digested and efficiently used by the baby. It also reduces risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, helps the uterus to return to its previous size, and reduces bleeding which helps in preventing anemia,” Flores said.
“As a community, we should regard breast-feeding as a norm, where all members of the family would provide support and encouragement to the breast-feeding mom,” Flores shared. “The entire family benefits as well from breast-feeding because there is no cash-out involved... It also contributes to family planning as it helps delay a new pregnancy.”
Buding Aquino-Dee, a breast-feeding advocate and one of the subjects in the photos shown, said, "Breast milk is the best I could offer my children. I've read about it and heard it from experts so I persevered in doing it.” she said.
The photo exhibit is presented by the joint program called MDG-F 2030 (Ensuring Food Security and Nutrition for Children 0-24 Months Old) of the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund or MDG-F, and the Department of Health-National Nutrition Council. It is organized in partnership with SM Cares, LATCH Inc., Breastfeeding Patrol of Mandaluyong City, and the School of Design and Arts of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.
Photos by Stanley Ong