Simultaneous breastfeedings held amid melamine-tainted milk scare

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2008 10:11 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2008 06:12 AM

A thousand lactating mothers participate in Marikina City in celebration of the “Breastfeeding Week” with the theme: "Sabay-sabay, Sumuso sa Nanay"

As the public reels from the ongoing melamine scare, breastfeeding advocates intensified their campaign by holding a synchronized breastfeeding activity in different parts of the country Saturday.

One of the events was hosted by Marikina City where more than a thousand lactating mothers participated in celebration of the “Breastfeeding Week” with the theme: "Sabay-sabay, Sumuso sa Nanay".

Aileen Guevarra, Nutritionist Dietician of the Marikina City Health Office, said the city was chosen by the Philippine Lactation Resource and Training Center (PLRTC), and Nurturers of the Earth to be the central area of the simultaneous breastfeeding activity.

"Our active participation on this advocacy has rendered us to host this significant event to affirm mother's nurturing role and their right to breastfeed anywhere and at anytime,” she said.

Protect from greed and commercialism

Dr. Elvira Henares-Esguerra, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), said the event was celebrated in time with the ongoing milk contamination, which has already killed a number of babies in China.
 
“Our point here is we want to institutionalize breastfeeding as a prayer to protect our mother and children from corporate greed and commercialism. This is timely, the melamine scare just happened…. there are problems with man-made products,” she said.

PLRTC said that the advocacy was started out as a protest that mothers resort to when they are admonished not to breastfeed in public. Its popularity rose in countries like the US, Canada and Australia and has become a form of celebration during occasions like the World Breastfeeding Week.

Henares-Esguerra also cited the timely importance of reiterating to mothers breastfeeding especially with the ongoing issue of melamine-contamination of milk from China.

“This is timely ... the melamine scare just happened. we've been talking about this for a long time. There are problems with man-made products. God has given us the breast, God has given us the milk to connect our babies to Him. And so, it's just not the best but the only way to feed your baby because not only do you give him health and well being, you also give him intellectual development and emotional stability with breast milk,” said Henares-Esguerra.

Tacloban, Baguio events

Advocates added that the event was held simultaneous with Canada and local areas like Tacloban and Baguio City.

In Tacloban, there were at least 300 mothers who participated in the event. In Baguio City there were more than 80.

Participants believe that joining the activity is their way of encouraging mothers to steer away from the ill-effects of melamine-tainted milk products.

“I know that milk from the mother is healthy for the baby,” Kamelah Bulalaque, one of the participants said in the vernacular.

For her part, Marikina Mayor Maridess Fernando said that good nutrition begins in infancy.

"Children who were not breastfed are at risk for some childhood infections. Lowering people's risk for many chronic diseases constitutes a big part of our good nutrition advocacy," she said in a statement.

Educating mothers en masse

PLRTC said, in a statement, that the inspiration to stage synchronized breastfeeding was conceived by Henares-Esguerra, Director of Children for Breastfeeding Inc., Philippines and fellow IBCLC Nona D. Andaya-Castillo, Director of Nurturers of the Earth Philippines.
 

Dr. Elvira Henares-Esguerra, Director of Children for Breastfeeding Inc., Philippines, speaks in Marikina City's breastfeeding activity

 
PLRTC said to educate mothers en masse on the benefits of breastfeeding and create public pressure against milk companies and US officials’ move to suppress advocates and the Philippine health officials, the IBCLCs worldwide have organized two simultaneous breastfeeding events (in single and multiple sites) in their country that created national and international impact and won two Guinness World Records.
 
The center said that the challenge to hold the global event spanning countries with different time zones evolved into the idea of synchronized breastfeeding by gathering the most number of mother-baby pairs to breastfeed at exactly the same local time in their time zone.  Similar to the celebration of New Year, every hour in succession for a 24-hour period, countries in one time zone will breastfeed simultaneously.
 
The first global event spearheaded by Henares-Esguerra’s organization, Children for Breastfeeding Inc Philippines, in partnership with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) took place last August 8, 2007 to cap the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. PLRTC said it mobilized 10,103 mother-baby pairs converged in 325 sites in 16 countries with 9,826 pairs successfully latched at exactly 10:00 a.m. at their own local time. With reports from Kristine Addatu, ABS-CBN Baguio and Jenette Rueda, ABS-CBN Tacloban