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Aug 7, 2014

Healthy Living Looks at Breastfeeding

World Breastfeeding Month is being celebrated globally to encourage new and expecting moms to give their newborns the best start in life with breastfeeding.  The overall aim is to have mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies from birth to the first six months of their lives. It means no formula, no water, no anise seed, no gripe water nothing but breast milk. Tonight in Healthy Living, we look at the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
The benefits of breastfeeding have been promoted for yearsalways focusing on the health benefits for both mom and baby. Yet, in Belize only fourteen percent of babies are exclusively breastfed and strangely, it is our baby boys who miss out the most.


Jorge Polanco

Dr. Jorge Polanco, INCAP Coordinator, PAHO Belize
“A report spearheaded by UNICEF was fourteen point seven percent, however, when we saw the breakdown in that survey in 2011, it is interesting to know that in that census, we found that the rate of breastfeeding in boys was only ten percent and in females it was twenty-one percent. So it really calls your attention as to why this disparity.”


The main question is why? Especially when multiple studies show that a breastfed is not only healthier but also more intelligent.


Dr. Jorge Polanco

“In multiple studies across the globe, breastfeeding is linked directly to the health of newborns. During that six months then the child will get the opportunity to get all the nutrients all the antibodies, all the immunoglobulins that are necessary for that infant to fight infections for example. Of course it contributes to his growth and cognitive development. There are multiple studies internationally that breastfeeding is related directly in preventing many multiple infections.”


The fourteen percent recorded in the study represented moms who exclusively breastfeed their children, exclusive – as in absolutely nothing else is fed to the baby but the breast.


Pauline Griffith

Pauline Griffith, Public Health Nurse, Maternal & Child Health, Matron Roberts Clinic
“The breast milk is so light it has the right amount of nutrients, water whatever the baby stomach needs for that period of six months. So when we say exclusive breastfeeding, we mean no water, no sugar and water, no glucose, no anise seed.  It protects the baby from sickness, it is readily available, it is cheap, it has all the nutrients and water to quench that baby’s thirst. And it is also the first vaccine for the baby, when the baby is born.”


Nurse Griffith is the public health nurse at the Matron Roberts Clinic, a recently certified baby friendly institution.


Dr. Jorge Polanco
“What that means is that breastfeeding is promoted at every opportunity. It is promoted, it is facilitated, the mothers are counseled; the staff learns about the benefits of breastfeeding. The fathers are encouraged to accompany mothers during prenatal visits. Recently, the Ministry of Health passed a policy to accept a companion during birth. It could be fathers or partners can accompany mothers during birth. The father is strongly encouraged to be there.”


Through their counseling program at the clinic, Nurse Griffith discusses the main reasons women choose not to exclusively breastfeed. The first is a misconception that the baby is not getting enough milk.


Pauline Griffith
“It’s not because the child is not getting enough or you have to go back to work. The baby stomach is very small, so when we think the baby need four ounces of milk or six ounces of milk; that is not true. The baby stomach at birth is small; it is like the size of a pea. So the milk the baby gets at birth, the colostrums, is enough for that child. The other concern is that they bottle feed because they have to go back to work. We encourage them to start expressing the milk while on maternity leave, store in the freezer because breast milk last six months in the freezer. So when they go back to work they can provide that same breast milk in the cup to the day care provider to give the child during the day while away.”


Dr. Jorge Polanco
“Many workplaces already encourage it and within them policies as well whereby an appropriate time is given for mothers to breastfeed, sometimes they take it early in the morning or early in the afternoon or at midday they would be given one hour extra but it’s is also encouraged for the workplace to designate a space for them to extract the milk; if there is no appropriate space it can be uncomfortable. The management in private and public sectors should give the time and also make space.”


Another less discussed benefit is the cost – or lack of- associated with breast milk.


Pauline Griffith
“Let’s say you do the calculation for bottle feeding with formula, its two cans of milk per week per baby. That’s forty dollars per week per baby…and for four weeks, four hundred and sixty dollars. If you calculate that for four to five years, you have money for university and high school for that child.”


For the moms we met at the clinic, breastfeeding was their first and only option for their babies.


Sadie Clare

Sadie Clare, Mother of 1 year old Kahdeem
“After birth, he was in ICU for I think two days and I went to the ICU and I asked for them not to give him bottle because I would come every three hours for me to breastfeed him. So I did that and I breastfeed all my children. So for my third child actually what I did, I resigned from my job so that I could give him full attention, including the breastfeeding.”


Marleni Cuellar

“What made you make the decision to breastfeed your baby?”


Maide Ceballo

Maide Ceballo, Mother of 5-month old, Riane Reyes
“So that she can be healthy, a good lifestyle. They grow healthy and I noh need money to buy the milk.”


Angela Everett, Mother of 2-month old, Alejuane
“I did it with my first two so I just decided to do it with this one as well. Well with he, he just drink it and as he done, he look pan me and he start smile. So I know ih noh hard for me.”


Pauline Griffith
“There has been no scientist in the world that could ever produce a milk that is comparable to breast milk. It is nature’s natural milk and the best protection for our babies.”

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